Think about the title of this post for a moment. “God gives us a choice.”
Who is God? He is the maker of all things, including you and me. God is an infinite Being; we are finite. When God gives us a choice, who are we to negotiate? And yet in our pride, isn’t that what each of us attempts. Don’t we try to make the “deal” God offers us more appealing to our self.
What Is The Issue?
The Culture Monk and At The End of Ideology put out several posts that inspired this one.
Are Atheists and Agnostics Destroying The World? (jayfel.wordpress.com) – At The End of Ideology argues otherwise.
The Culture Monk provides two videos of an orderly discussion involving four knowledgeable people.
- Has Atheism Killed Culture – Culture Monk LIVE TV NOW! (culturemonk.com) – This one primarily focuses on Rebecca and Lee. Rebecca asserts Christianity is intellectually bankrupt. She says we need a more studied religion. Lee provides a good defense.
- Atheism & Western Culture – Video Part 2 (culturemonk.com) – In this video, John (apparently the author of At The End of Ideology ) explains his agnosticism, and Kenneth argues that Atheism and Agnosticism lead to moral degeneration.
What issue do we address here? What did those posts listed above inspire me to write about? With respect to the choice God gives us, what does Christianity offer?
What Does Christianity Offer?
Christianity offers the Bible. The Bible explains the choice God gives us.
For a good, short explanation of and description of the Bible, check out Is the bible the inspired word of God? (insanitybytes2.wordpress.com)
The Bible is itself a miracle, but it takes time and effort to study and appreciate just how remarkable the Bible is. Just a couple of hundred years ago a many Americans studied the Bible. Now, thanks to public education, many have relegated the Bible to the dustbin of history, and that’s a shame.
Before God allowed Israel, the northern kingdom, to be taken into captivity, He inspired Hosea to prophesy. The words Hosea left us included these.
Hosea 8:12 New King James Version (NKJV)
12 I have written for him the great things of My law,
But they were considered a strange thing.
How many of us now consider the Bible a strange thing?
Christianity offers a Savior.
Compare these two translations of the first of the beatitudes from The Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 5:3 New King James Version (NKJV)
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:3 Amplified Bible (AMP)
3 Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!
Who are the poor in spirit? The poor in spirit are those among us who recognize they need God’s help. John 9 illustrates the need. John 9 describes the transformation of a man blind from birth. Jesus healed that man. John Newton captured the lesson from John 9 in Amazing Grace. That hymn begins with these words.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
What does this metaphor mean, “Was blind, but now I see”? Jesus explained that to the Pharisees. Jesus explained the choice God gives us.
John 9:39-41 New King James Version (NKJV)
39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”
40 Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?”
41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.
The Pharisees would not accept their spiritual poverty. They were too proud to accept the fact they too were sinners in need of salvation. Yet as Jesus told Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), we each need to be born again. We each need to accept the choice God gives us, the offer of a new life.
What does it mean to born again? WITH ALL I AM explains in Kierkegaard: Subjectivity is Truth (withalliamgod.wordpress.com). An objective understanding of Christian precepts is insufficient. Reason is insufficient. Here is how that post ends.
Christian faith that does not transform who we are, as existing individuals, is meaningless to us. God is a gracious subject, according to Kierkegaard, who has revealed Himself in Christ. We cannot know Him through an objective cognitive process but only through a pure and passionate subjective relationship that brings joy to its maximum.
How are we born again? As The River Walk explains in Exodus 26:30 (Inside Out), God builds us from the inside out. He begins by giving us a new heart, one that can love.
Why Do We Want To Reject Christianity?
What the Bible demands from us rejects the wisdom of this world. Consider Jesus’ command.
John 15:12-13 New King James Version (NKJV)
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
Jesus commanded no trifling thing. Jesus died for us. Yet Jesus asks still more. He even expects us to forgive each other.
In Can We Love Others and Not Forgive Them?, The Life Project: Finding Clear and Simple Faith considers what love entails. The author observes.
Let’s be honest, these verses are entirely counter-intuitive and counter cultural. They certainly do not describe the attitude of our culture, nor do they describe our natural human inclinations, but they do describe what love in action looks like, for they describe a person who is willing to be set free from the desire to be “important” and assertive as this world sees these things. Instead, they describe a person who is willing to humbly serve God by serving others without expecting anything in return. This is love in its purest form!
What does the world tell us? The world constantly encourages us to put our self before others. Why? If a salesman wants us to splurge by buying his product, he tells us “we deserve it.” If a politician wants us to spend other people’s money on our self, he tells us “we deserve it.” “We deserve it” seems empowering. Because “we deserve it,” we can do what we want to do, but the requirement to love others imposes certain constraints. To love we must first count the cost. Then we must decide to pay the price.
An Example: Valentine’s Day
We usually think of Valentine’s Day as an occasion for teddy bears, flowers, and chocolate candies, and candlelit dinners. Yet without love these can be shallow, meaningless things.
Consider what a committed relationship involves.
Ephesians 5:22-33 New King James Version (NKJV)Marriage—Christ and the Church
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
The Bible uses the metaphor of God loving His people as a man loves his bride more than once, and it grates on some men. These don’t stop to think. Jesus serves as role model for men. He expects Christian men to love and protect their women, even at the cost of their lives. And He expects women to submit in love only to such men, men who love them dearly.
What is love? Settled In Heaven provides three posts that delve into the meaning of 1 Corinthians 13.
- Part #1 – The Importance Of Love
- Part #2 – The Eternal Nature Of Love
- Part #3 – The Supremacy Of Love
In addition, Settled In Heaven provides this post for 2015, “If you love… you will hate” Or “Why do married couples fight so much?”
A Final Passage From The Bible
Hebrews 13:1-6 New King James Version (NKJV)
13 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. 3 Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.
4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say:
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?”
Now that is cross-referencing. Quite an impressive post.
I enjoyed your post as well as the Culture Monk. Just wish others running about chasing the wind would take a little time out to think about what is really important in their lives.
Regards and goodwill blogging.
I do too.
Reblogged this on A Conservative Christian Man.
Wow! Great post. Well said. Nice round up of blogging discussions, too. I really enjoy following culture monk’s discussions.
Christianity offers a Savior, redemption, everlasting life, but it also provides a beautiful blueprint for a thriving civilization. The President made some unfortunate comments about Christianity recently that really got me thinking, Here we are living in the Western world, one of the few places non believers are free to non believe. Women have more freedom, opportunity, and safety, than we have had at other time in history, anywhere in the world. Slavery continues unabated in much of the world, in fact some people say there are more people enslaved today then there ever have been before, but not in the Western world. People laid down their lives fighting against slavery in the Western world. Amazing Grace, the song itself was written by a Christian who had an epiphany about slavery.
Christianity in all it’s flaws and mess, because it involves imperfect people, has still been a powerful force for good in the world. If people need to see what the world looks like in the absence of any Christian values there are still place they can visit.
John Newton’s life certainly illustrates the difference between a non-Christian and a Christian.
With two oceans on either side of us, most Americans don’t appreciate just how different this country still is. Unfortunately, at the rate things are going, we will soon look like the rest of the world, and slavery, in some form or another, will return. Don’t we already exploit those illegal immigrants?
Wow Tom. You really put some effort in on that post. It will take some time to read through it all. Thanks for pulling it all into one place though.
I do this to educate myself, but I certainly hope others enjoy it too.