Thursday, March 29, 2007

On Slavery to Christ, and Why It's Not a Bad Thing

In another forum, in response to a post stating that the poster was "a slave to Christ", there was the terse response,

"if you want to be slaves go ahead . I am a free man and I will stay a free man until I stop existing".

The problem with that statement is that, we're all slaves to one thing or another in this life. Some are slaves to money, to food, to fashion, to relationships, to sex, to greed.... whatever. Name your poison. Everyone has driving forces in their life about which we can do virtually nothing. Its our condition, and how we as humans were made. We need and desire and crave purpose, and through our cravings we become slaves to that which feels like it will give us some fulfillment.

Through Christ, accepting his resurrection as a real thing and understanding that because he rose from the dead He proved that he has the power and authority, given him by God, to forgive sin and grant eternal life, I've chosen to become a slave to God and righteousness... the good things in life. I'm a slave to kindness, honesty, patience, and simple unadulterated joy. My life has very difficult times, but I have the tools, through my relationship with Christ and an understanding of the eternal nature of my existence, to pass through those times with peace.

Slavery has a negative taste in our western mouths because of our history. Any time a human subjugates another human against his/her will, it's a horrible thing.

But to subjugate oneself, freely, to the benevolent living God, understanding God has my best interest at heart in all things, knowing He has forgiven me of all my sins and made me clean before Him, and that he accepts me as an adopted son, God becomes both my master and my loving Father who loves me and knows me better than anyone else in existence.

It becomes my opinion, then, (and dare I say the opinion of Paul and other followers of Christ) that to freely become a slave to the Living God, the granter of all things good, knowing that my life WITH God is far, far better than any life WITHOUT is a better life than to stand on my own before the Living God and demand He respect me for my own works.

How any human thinks they have authority or the right to stand before God and demand anything from their creator is just beyond me. If that's the path you choose, to rail against God on your own, I wish you luck with that. I don't think "the goddess" (this participant claimed to worship in some fashion) will help you much, but feel free to ask her. Let me know if she answers you.

My Attempt to Answer a Toughie

A posting in a forum asked,

"If God is the all seeing, all divine, all powerful big creator, why are there millions of innocent people starving to death in the world?"

The question is a good one, one that has been a stumbling point to belief in God for as long as people have wrestled with the idea of God.

I think first you have to consider that this world is not all there is. There is an eternal aspect to each and every one of us, which is an almost universal concept no matter what religion you look at. But since I believe in the God of the Bible and Jesus, I'll do my best to reason from that standpoint.

First, if indeed God is the creator of all things, then all things are His to do with as He pleases. Period. However, I think God does things for a reason and with purpose.

Example: Jesus and the disciples were walking through the temple in Jerusalem one day when they came upon a man who was blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus was it this man's own or his parents sin that caused him to be born blind.

The disciples were asking essentially the same question you asked. Why would God allow this man to be born blind? Isn't that a bad thing? Why would a loving God allow or cause this type of suffering?

Jesus answer was, so that I'd have the chance to show God's glory by healing this man here on this today (paraphrased, but that's the essence). Jesus indeed healed him, and that was one miracle of many in Jesus attempts to prove to the people who he was.

The point being, God did it for His own reason, not any reason that, beforehand, would have made sense to us. We, as humans, have such a short-sighted view on life, especially if we don't understand the eternal aspect. Was it a lack of love on God's part? A lack of compassion that God made this man blind most of his life? Or was it because God had a plan to reveal Himself to this man, and others through him, at a particular point in his life by doing something amazing? Again, the point being, God did it for his own reasons, but with purpose.

And, if God is indeed the creator, He doesn't need to ask us or justify to us His reasons, but I appreciate the beauty of the fact that He did explain it to us, on that occasion. And on many, many others.

Next, I've noted another person asking the question, what makes you assume people are innocent? Something to understand, from the Biblical standpoint from which I take my understanding of God, is that ALL people have sinned, and are under judgment and deserving of death. Everyone, everywhere, for all time. By God's standard, there IS no innocent person on earth. Jesus was the only one to live a sinless, perfect, truly innocent life, and even he was killed, quite brutally I might add. But again, he was killed for God's purpose and plan.

So, if we are all sinful, each of deserving of God's wrath and judgment, I think an even better question is: why does God allow his saved people to suffer? Biblically, those who have accepted Christ and are now clean and white as snow in God's eyes, and truly made innocent by Jesus' sacrifice. You'd think God would do everything He could to keep them safe, being truly innocent now, wouldn't you?

But look throughout history - the Christians in the Roman coliseum, all throughout Asia Minor and elsewhere, down through history and all over the world. God has not spared "His people" one bit of suffering. Among those "innocent people starving to death" as you put it, are believers who call out to God for help. Why doesn't He save them? I think that's a good, valid question.

I think it's because those who do not know God have a misunderstanding of what God's purpose is for our lives, and exactly what God is saving when he acts. True, there are times on this earth when God acts and literally saves people from physical calamity. Look at the biblical examples of Daniel in the lions den, or the guys who were thrown into the fire and escaped unburned. They served God's purpose to reveal himself to people at that time.

But God is in the business of granting eternal life to those who believe. This life, with is problems and suffering and what appears to be injustice and cruelty, is short and very temporary when compared with eternity. God is in the business of preparing us for that eternal life.

God promised even believers we'd have trouble, pains, and fear, just like everyone else - but to be of good cheer because Jesus has paid the price for sin, and those who trust God will escape the final judgment and live forever. It's THAT hope which makes the suffering bearable, and why the Christian faith perseveres.

So, the short answer to your question might be, I don't know the reasons why God does what He does. But because I DO believe in God, the creator of this world, and because I've seen the examples of love and generosity through Jesus dying and resurrecting to save ME, I can have faith and an actual firm, worldly assurance that God is not capricious. He is not callous or whimsical, and that everything He does has a purpose. One day, when that eternal existence begins, I'll have a better understanding.

But for now God says, trust me. Because of my own experience which proves to me God is who He says he is, I will. My hope is that many more will too.