Saturday, 2 April 2016

The God of Reason

 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord” Isaiah 1:18

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” 1 Peter 3:15

Recently at my home group we had a short discussion about whether it was appropriate to sometimes flip open the Bible, expecting God to speak to us through it. My answer to this is yes, and no. Randomly flipping open the Bible might bring a much needed piece of advice or inspiration from God, or it might result in reading a long list of genealogies or measurements of the temple.
There is nothing in the Bible that is not good, or beneficial. God would not harm anyone through the practice of opening it willy- nilly, but I think it’s far more important to read it systematically and purposefully. When you regularly read the Bible and know its contents, you can open it with understanding and read passages which will give strength and direction according to your particular needs or those of others.
I tend to shy away from randomness when it comes to God. Let’s face it, many new age occult practices have a high degree of randomness attached- toss a bundle of sticks and see how they fall; pull cards out of a pack and they will reveal your destiny.  False Gods of false religions are capricious, playing with people like pawns and their religious practices revolve around repetitious efforts to please or appease them.
No so the true God of the Bible. He is the God of love and compassion as well as justice. His word gives us His precepts, upon which whole civilizations have been constructed.  His word clearly defines the reasons for the human condition of sinfulness and how mankind can come into right relationship with Him again – only through His Son, Jesus Christ.   We see the results in the changed lives of those who commit themselves to Christ.
Such is God’s love for us that He did not leave us alone when Jesus ascended to Heaven, but sent His Holy Spirit to be with us, indwelling the Christian, providing counsel and encouragement. God’s Holy Spirit has been much misrepresented through the extremism of some churches, but it is real, operating in the lives of Christians, sometimes miraculously, sometimes more quietly.
Through prayer we are told to bring our needs and requests to God. When God says, come let us reason together, He means just that. He is not, as one secular song lyrics suggest, watching us from a distance. He's with us. He loves to have us talk with Him, and He answers in many various ways. The Bible records Jacob wrestling with God, and some of us do that on occasion. The Psalms contain many passages of lament and pleading with God. as well as joy and wonder.  Through prayer we can talk to God about what we want to do with the resources he has given us, our talents and desires and dreams.  We can talk to God about anything- fears, temptations, problems and more, and know that He hears and cares.
God’s word clearly teaches ways of living in right relationships – with God, with our specific marriage partner, and with our fellow humans. It affirms that people are born with free choice, capable of great things as well as evil ones. It discusses the highest levels of human ethics – e.g. forgiveness, faithfulness, temptation. 
The Bible affirms the wonder of all created things on earth and in heaven. It contains glorious passages describing the beauty of the natural world and the majesty of heaven. The heavens do not operate randomly. The stars appear in their patterns and courses. The trees and plants display amazing intricacy in their life cycles. Animals reproduce after their kind. The Bible accurately records history of the times in which it was written – accuracy frequently confirmed by archaeological discoveries.
Far from being “blind faith” Christianity affirms the highest levels of humanity.  Far from being restrictive, it opens a doorway into a whole realm of relationship and growth. It encourages us to be our best, achieve our best and most of all to receive the best things that our loving Father God has for us.
I am never ashamed to call myself a Christian. I hope more and more that God will give me the ability to answer those who want to know the reasons for my faith in Him. 

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