The subtle brilliance of humanistic thinking

starsChristianity presents the highest, noblest view of the dignity of man (male/female) of any other worldview or belief system. According to our Scriptures, we humans are not merely the products of unguided evolution. We aren’t simply “dancing to our DNA” as Richard Dawkins claims.

We are not simply the latest, upgraded installment of the evolutionary chain, animals 2.0.

We are carriers of a divine spark. We are made in the image of God, loved by Deity, and we carry an intrinsic value and worth that is unique among all of creation. That’s our starting point. And yet as brilliantly and wondrously as we were made, we aren’t God. We submit to God. We worship God, but we ourselves are not divine.

In contrast to this Christian perspective is evolutionary humanism that starts from a very different place. In evolutionary humanistic thinking, humans are not intrinsically special or unique. We aren’t loved by Deity and destined for a significant life or eternity. We are biological impulses. We’re just the latest version of evolution, today’s manifestation of natural selection.

How interesting it is then to see that although humanism begins with man as no more significant than animals, it ends with man essentially enthroned as God. This is inconsistent reasoning. Humanistic philosophy both reduces the sanctity of human life while simultaneously elevating man’s prowess and genius as the greatest force in existence.

How does that happen? How do we begin as nothing more than animals, but then end as essential deities? It’s a brilliantly subtle belief that divests us of accountability and responsibility, while promoting our independence and pride.

I like King David’s exclamations from Psalm 8 verses 1 and 4: “Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Then “What is man that you are mindful of him?” God is mindful of us—that makes us special. But it is His name—not ours—that is majestic in all the earth.

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Loved When Unlovable

love the unlovable

Do you know that you were loved in your most unlovable moments? Do you know that God loved you even when you couldn’t love yourself? Has the weight of that truth ever worked its way into your soul?

You were loved in the exact time when you were the most difficult to love.

God loved you when you hated Him (or when you were coolly indifferent to Him).

He loved you when you pulled a Jonah and sailed in the opposite direction.

He loved you before you surrendered your life to Him and began morphing into who you are today.

He loved you in your confusion, your brokenness, and your shame.

He loved you when you cheered for the wrong sports team (sorry Clippers fans).

God loved you when you were far from Him. That’s what Romans 5:8 is all about. It says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

If those words are true, how have they affected our closest relationships? Do we love our loved ones in their less-than-lovely moments? Or do we only love them until those moments?

Certainly, it’s easier to love our loved ones when they’re modeling all of the things that we love best about them, but what about when the other stuff peeks through? What about those times when their lesser nature flares up? Do we love them still?

We don’t have to love their lesser nature, and we certainly don’t have to endorse what they do with it, but I hope we have enough of God’s love in us to continue loving even when it’s difficult to love.

Indeed, those are probably the only moments when love can truly be called love.

God is easy to live with

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEnjoy this powerful Easter reflection from A.W. Tozer’s book The Root of the Righteous.

“The truth is that God is the most winsome of all beings and His service one of unspeakable pleasure. He is all love, and those who trust Him need never know anything but that love.

He is just, indeed, and He will not condone sin; but through the blood of the everlasting covenant He is able to act toward us exactly as if we had never sinned. Toward the trusting sons of men His mercy will always triumph over justice.

The fellowship of God is delightful beyond all telling. He communes with His redeemed ones in an easy, uninhibited fellowship that is restful and healing to the soul. He is neither sensitive nor selfish not temperamental. What He is today we shall find Him tomorrow and the next day and the next year. He is not hard to please, though He may be hard to satisfy. He expects of us only what He has Himself first supplied. He is quick to mark every simple effort to please Him, and just as quick to overlook imperfections when He knows we meant to do His will.

He loves us for ourselves and values our love more than galaxies of new created worlds.”[1]

 

[1] A.W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous (Camp Hill, PA: Wing Spread Publishers, 1955, 2006), 15.

 

Unexplainable but not Unknowable

cosmosThere’s a difference between things that are unexplainable and unknowable.

I can’t explain exactly how love works, but I’ve been deeply in love with Jessica for twenty years now.

I can’t fully explain how a daughter is able to utterly melt a father’s heart; however, all Maddie and Amber have to do to get their way with me is play the daughter/daddy card.

I would fail miserably if someone asked me give a technical explanation for the law of gravity, and yet I could demonstrate it perfectly, simply by standing still.

Some of the most complex things in life are beyond adequate description—they can’t be fully articulated in the human language—they have to be known.

I can’t explain God to you.

I can talk about Him. I can tell you my experiences. I can point to creation and some things that could only have come from His limitless imagination. I can quote Scriptures and preach sermons, but at the end of the day, God must be known.

He isn’t an idea or a hypothesis or the Jedi’s impersonal “Force.” He is a person—He is THE person—and Jesus showed us what He looks like.

The Apostle Paul said, “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” (Colossians 2:9)

The Apostle John said, “The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made His dwelling among us. And we have seen His glory.” (John 1:14)

The Apostle Peter said, “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16)

And what about you? What would you say? I know you can’t explain Him, but who do you know Him to be?

He is waiting to be known, and those who seek Him find Him.

Weary Warriors (The End of the Trail)

 

end-of-the-trail-slideDoes this statue look like you? Are you a weary warrior, fighting to stay atop your equally weary mount?

This sculpture, called The End of the Trail, was created in the late 1800s and it gripped my heart the first time I saw it as a child. I was fascinated by this slumped and swaying warrior, and I wanted to know what had crushed his spirit so badly. Had he been injured in battle or was he merely bowed by exhaustion or grief? How had such a noble soul come to such a defeated, broken end?

I didn’t realize that my life would often resemble that statue.

Yours probably has too.

We’ve all ridden toward the horizon, ready to win the day, only to come to the end of the trail, hurting, lonely, dazed, and confused, and wondering how it all went wrong.

When we come to the end of the trail and droop like this valiant warrior, there’s only one lasting cure for our soul—the presence and nearness of God. Max Lucado calls that place of God’s presence “the sweetest spot in the universe.”[1]

The Gospel story is one of simultaneous expansion and narrowing. It’s expanding toward the furthest reaches of the known world, but it’s also honing in on individuals like a heat-seeking missile.

God wants to draw close to you. His very name, Immanuel (God with us), says so.

In this week’s installment of our summer reading program, Lucado expounds on this idea of God drawing near. That nearness—more than any other place in the universe—is where life becomes sweet and the common life is truly cured. Let’s lean into that space until we sense His presence and His Spirit makes us whole.

 

Summer Reading Program: The Cure for the Common Life Chapter Seven “Come to the sweetest spot in the universe.”

[1] Max Lucado, The Cure for the Common Life (Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN: 2005): 70.

 

Are you pretty enough?

looking in mirrorDo you feel like you’re pretty enough? Are you secure with your physical attractiveness, or are you laboring under a constant pressure to be thinner, buffer, or better looking?

If you feel that pressure, you’re certainly not alone. Our culture today puts so much beauty pressure on us that it’s almost as if we’ve been transported to Jupiter, and are toiling under a vastly disproportionate gravitational pull. A 200 lb man on Earth would weigh several times that much on Jupiter, and would find the increased gravitational weight nearly crushing.

Lots of people are being crushed today beneath the weight of our beauty-worshipping culture, and they need to be reminded of several truths:

  1. Beauty is never skin deep. A person’s character really does overtake their appearance. The Greek poet, Sappho, said, “What is good is beautiful, and who is good will soon also be beautiful.”
  2. Beauty must be assessed by its season. Ecclesiastes 1:11 says, “Everything is beautiful in its time.” The middle or old aged seasons of life are vastly different from the 20-something season of life and they must be judged accordingly. When we reject our culture’s one-dimensional-youth-only view of beauty, we can agree with the Proverbs that “the beauty of the aged is gray hair” (Proverbs 20:29).
  3. Beauty (really is) in the eye of the beholder…and the Lord, your beholder, thinks you’re beautiful! (See: 1 Samuel 16:7; Proverbs 31:30; 1 Peter 3:4-5; Psalm 45; Hosea 2:16-20; Isaiah 62:3-5; and many dozens of other Scriptures)

So, while you’re choosing the right hairstyle and watching what you eat, please do it from a responsible place of health versus a frantic plea for acceptance. You already are accepted and you already are loved.

God’s love (to infinity and beyond)

thorThis past week, Amber and I got tied up over a misunderstanding. We were equally wrong but she apologized first (note to self: be the bigger man since I am the bigger man). The instant she apologized to me, my frustrations began to dissipate and my heart began swelling with an overwhelming amount of love for her. As I analyzed the moment and my corresponding emotions, another thought darted cross-current into my consciousness: “I wonder if this is what God feels when we repent to Him?” And then that thought was immediately followed by: “Yes, except that God’s love is connected to infinity.”

I can’t really get my head around infinity, but it sure sounds like a lot.

I kept thinking about this all throughout the day, and I remembered an obscure mythology story wherein the Norse god, Thor, was challenged by the Ogre King to drink all of the ale from his drinking horn. When Thor brought the horn to his lips, convinced that he could easily drain its contents, the Ogre King slipped the end of the horn into the ocean. Although Thor’s draught was impressive and the oceans of the world receded a little from all their beaches, no one can swallow the whole ocean, and so Thor was thus humiliated.

I know, it’s a weird story for illustrating God’s love for us. Except that it isn’t. It’s actually a great picture of how God’s love is drawn from an endless supply. Like the ocean that could not be swallowed, God’s love for you and me is of a deep, abounding, infinite level.

King David said it this way, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:11).

He loves you! Not with a love that ebbs and flows, but with a commitment that is deeper than the deepest waters of the sea.

Know you are loved today!