Give an Answer

When unbelievers ask us why we believe and act the way we do, why we have any hope living in this evil, broken world, we should be ready to answer. (1Pe 3:15) We shouldn’t just give them sentiment either; true faith is based on facts.

Scientific facts, archaeological and historical facts, well-attested to over centuries, provide the groundwork of earnest belief. We don’t believe a certain way just because our parents did, or because friends and family agree. Godly faith isn’t blind; it’s grounded in wisdom and reason. We should be familiar with the factual grounds of our faith and be prepared to provide a reasonable defense.

Perhaps the greatest challenge to our faith will be on moral grounds, why we don’t accept the LGBTQ or Social Justice agenda. Those who’ve invented their own false Christ think He accepts any behavior because He’s too loving to correct or rebuke anyone. They won’t tolerate those who refuse to bow the knee to political correctness.

In the face of such challenges, is it appropriate to begin quoting scripture? If they reject scripture as authoritative, why would they care what it says? The wicked are often expert at finding flaws in arguments, pointing out apparent inconsistencies, and referencing academic/scientific authorities to support their rejection of Christianity. Trying to answer their objections can be very difficult and time consuming, and  even well-reasoned answers will be unacceptable to the darkened heart. This approach seldom ends well.

Perhaps it is better to ask them to explain the basis of their own confidence. In my experience, atheists don’t arrive at their position through any clear evidence, but by rejecting false religion: it’s a strawman fallacy. For a moral code, ask them how they know what good and evil are, and why they act as if evil exists. They can’t help but act this way; it’s in their very design. How so?

If they can’t site some scripture somewhere, some official written moral code that isn’t subject to their momentary whim, perhaps Hindu or Buddhist or Muslim, which they’re following earnestly and consistently, they’re simply making up their own morality as they go. Why then should they get so frustrated when they see us (supposedly) doing the same thing? It’s irrational.

And on the rare occasion when an antagonist does follow some documented code of conduct, it’s easy then to ask what evidence they have that this code was revealed by God. If they’re letting some mere mortal set up their moral code, why impose this on others? This isn’t much better than making up our own.

The very existence of the Jewish people proves God exists, and that Torah is His moral code: it’s not Man-made. And the very existence of Christianity proves that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and he believed in Torah. If they can’t point to any other code with a more compelling factual and historical basis, and they can’t even get close, then why not follow Torah?

Such an approach may cause an unbeliever to consider why they feel so smug and confident in their unbelief, and to begin to question their own faith. Perhaps God would use this to convict them and move them to seek Him. (Ac 17:27)

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Job Cursed His Day

A dear friend tells me they regularly wish they’d never been born. I may have some vague idea what this feels like; it certainly can’t be good. My heart aches for them.

Having such a feeling implies our pain and suffering swallow up and extinguish the very lovingkindness of God, that no future good, even the majesty of Heaven, justifies the struggle of our existence. It’s giving up on God, and giving in to hopelessness. (1Th 4:13)

This is, of course, all a lie (Ps 63:3), but coldly relating truth as a clinical fact to a despondent, suffering soul may very well be unhelpful and counterproductive. (Pr 25:20) They likely already admit this truth, at least intellectually, and want to believe it deep inside, but when we lose sight of God’s goodness we faint (Ps 27:13), and words lose their meaning.

Before passing judgement, or reprimanding, let’s note carefully that Job did this in spades: he cursed his birthday (Job 3:1), in the strongest possible language, demanding it be forgotten (3), set apart from the rest of the year as a day of blackness and despair (4), and God never scolded Job for this. God let Job honestly express his suffering in the extreme and bore patiently with him … and didn’t curse his birthday.

The complexities of the snares and wounds of the depressed, the anxious, the neurotic, the layers of pain and deception and strongholds, are only known by God. Without divine perspective life can indeed be too painful for us to bear. (Ps 73:16)

As we look for ways to help our suffering brothers and sisters, we submit to God and bear one another’s burdens, fulfilling the Law of Christ (Ga 6:2), gently (2Ti 2:24) speaking truth in love (Ep 4:15), and only as He leads (1Pe 4:11), asking Him to minister grace through our words as He wills. (Ep 4:29)

Deliverance often comes one layer at a time, one puzzle piece at a time, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. (Is 28:10) God must give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth (2Ti 2:25) so they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil: until then, they’re prisoners of war, taken captive by Satan at his will. (26)

Let us comfort (2Co 1:4) by first listening and being present (Job 2:13), empathizing with their pain and feeling it with them as best we can. (Ro 12:15) Knowing that we care, that we’re there for them, may be all they need from us for now.

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Horror Hath Taken Hold

Horror stories focus on shocking, intensely revolting, frightfully repugnant themes, the most unjust suffering imaginable, portraying evil in the extreme, often with a supernatural component. Imagery generally involves some grotesque distortion of humanity, and if innocent human suffering perpetrated by evil incarnate isn’t somehow part of the narrative it’s hard to see it as horror.

Interestingly, the psalmist describes a scene which fills him with horror, latching onto his soul and not letting go, taking hold of his inmost being: he contemplates the wicked forsaking God’s Law. (Ps 119:153) When he considers how evildoers neglect, dismiss, spurn, despise and reject God’s righteous standard, he finds it painfully revolting, repugnant and distasteful. (Pr 28:9)

Horror is perhaps the most intensely negative expression of emotion we have, and it even has a spiritual dimension, yet in this case it’s clearly over something most of us don’t find the least bit horrifying. The significance of this can hardly be overstated: we simply aren’t connecting with God at all on His terms; in other words, we haven’t a clue what either sin or God are really like. (Job 42:6)

The victim in this horrific scenario before the psalmist is evidently God Himself, Who’s grieved and angered by those who despise His Law. (Ge 6:6) We mortals aren’t typically horrified by disrespect for Torah because we lack divine perspective: we evaluate good and evil based on how it impacts human suffering; we have little appreciation for divine suffering. (Ep 4:30)

When we view horror from the human perspective we’re repulsed by offenses against mankind, but if we’re driven by God’s glory then crimes causing unjust suffering in God are infinitely more horrifying.

And the primary way we cause divine suffering is by trampling underfoot what God loves: Torah, His Son, the Word, all perfect expressions of God’s holy nature. (Ps 19:7) His attitude toward sin is reflected in the most intense suffering known to Man: the Cross. (Php 2:8) God knows about suffering, and He knows about it firsthand: He became sin for us. (2Co 5:21)

This is helping us identify what the psalmist calls the great transgression, a certain type of presumptuous sin he by all means intends to avoid. (Ps 19:13) Willful, deliberate, intentional transgression of Torah, done in open defiance of God, angers Him fiercely. (He 10:26-27) Yet when we sin so against God while claiming God Himself is unjust and unrighteous, when abundant proof of His mercy and benevolence and love abounds (29), we’re sinning on an altogether different level. (Ge 3:5) It’s the kind of sin the wicked pursue. (Jud 15)

Presumptuous, self-righteous sin, isn’t the creature merely in rebellion, but also exalting itself morally above the Creator in that rebellion (Ro 1:25), comprising the kind of intrinsic blasphemy we’re accustomed to on Earth (Job 15:16), but which is most appalling to those with Heavenly perspective. (Is 6:5)

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A Covering

Whether a woman should cover her head in public or not has often been a topic of debate in the church; the practice was evidently common in ancient societies, and is still observed in some more traditional cultures. God does address the topic in Scripture, but not so clearly that we might be dogmatic about it, hence the debate.

As a guiding principle, we should observe that God has defined sin in His Law, and He has explicitly commanded us not to add to it (De 4:2); so, we shouldn’t expect God to authorize anyone in the New Testament to change the definition of sin by adding new commands; only to provide commentary, to help us see more clearly what He intended from the beginning.

So, when God focuses on head coverings, we should note that He doesn’t point us back to any specific command in Torah; He opens by stating the roles of men and women in relation to Himself and each other: Christ is the head of every man; and the head of the woman is the man. (1Co 11:3)

This evidently implies that a man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head (4); it also implies that when a woman prays or prophesies with her head uncovered she dishonors her head. (5a) What exactly is implied here, why is it implied, and how do we know this?

What we feel when a woman is made bald (involuntarily) tells us all we need to know here (5a) — there’s something unnatural about it. When it’s considered a shame for a woman to be bald, or to have all her hair shaved off (6), in any way that’s different than for a man, we’re admitting we know this principle organically.

We know from the Creation story (Ge 1:27) that men should not cover their heads: they’re made in God’s direct image (7a); women should cover their heads because they’re made in the image of man, or indirectly in God’s image. (7b) The Creation account further reinforces this concept in the fact that Man was not made from Woman, but Woman was made from Man (8), and since Woman was made expressly for Man, and not vice versa. (9)

In other words, the details of Creation imply that [1] women have a different role in the home and society than men do, [2] that this role is a submissive, supportive, helpful one (Ge 2:18), and [3] that it’s appropriate for women to reflect this  role difference symbolically by covering their heads in public. (10)

This does not mean men are better than, superior to, or more valuable than women; their mutual interdependency proves this. (11-12)

So there’s a natural law, evident to all in tune with Creation: women should cover themselves in public (13), and that men should not. For example, nature itself teaches us that when a man covers his head with long hair he brings shame on himself. (14) However, the opposite is true for a woman; when she covers herself with long hair it’s a glory to her; her hair is given to her as a natural covering. (15)

How we maintain our hair is thus the primary way we reflect God’s design here, and the biblical text plainly states this — so, technically, this has nothing to do with a material covering over the hair. Mandating that women cover their hair with a material covering at any time doesn’t stand up to scripture: it isn’t commanded in Torah, it isn’t clearly inferred here, and it isn’t explicitly discussed anywhere else in Scripture.

Further, as far as the biblical standard is concerned, how long men and women should generally try to keep their hair, or what style they should use to represent this role difference before God, is evidently cultural since no particular hair length or style is specified in scripture. Apart from those who are overtly defying, blending or reversing biblical roles, what do people in any given culture perceive to be a natural or appropriate hair length and style for each sex? This is the only guide we have, and it’s subjective and relative for a reason; as it is with the types of clothes which further distinguish the sexes (De 22:5), this is determined by culture.

All this said, it’s clear that we might adorn ourselves with headwear in ways which accentuate our appearance. In doing so we ought to apply the same principle; we differentiate ourselves in our respective roles by  how we treat the place in our bodies where we consciously reside, in our minds or heads. Ornamental or symbolic coverings should evidently be treated much like hair; for men, not covering more of the scalp and neck than where the hair is naturally growing as a covering of the skin, and larger, longer coverings for women.

For example, the priestly headgear required by God in the service of the tabernacle seems to follow this pattern: the mitre, crown (Ex 29:16) and bonnets (28:40a) weren’t shameful for the men to wear, but were glorious and beautiful. (40b) They didn’t violate this principle even in spirit; the style evidently covered little more than where hair naturally covers the scalp.

So then, when men wear a hood to keep from freezing in the bitter cold, or from burning in the sun, do they violate this principle in spirit? Since this type of clothing isn’t symbolic but more practical — and the context here is clearly symbolic — I think it’s safe to say that this isn’t a violation of God’s pattern in any sense.

And finally, what about the Nazarites, men who didn’t cut their hair for long periods; some never felt a razor their whole lives. (Jdg 13:5) No problem: long hair can be wrapped up in a turban and kept off the neck and shoulders in public – it need not be a shameful covering simply because it’s long.

In matters which are not clearly specified in scripture, let’s study it out for ourselves until we’re convinced of what’s right for us (Ro 14:5), being careful to follow God’s precepts as best we can without rigidly imposing new regulations on others, but each pursuing alignment with God according to our own conscience. (Ro 14:22)

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Made Righteous

The brilliance of the Gospel is that God is righteous and just, yet also the justifier of a sinner believing in Jesus. (Ro 3:26)

The key to unlocking this mystery lies in the concept of a Federal Head: by being in an ancestor we inherit their inward nature, and as that nature manifests in our own behavior we also inherit the standing of that ancestor before God. (1Co 15:22) In that sense we all have a federal representative before God; as he stands or falls before God, so do we.

All of us were born in Adam; he’s our common ancestor, and a sinner; when he sinned in the Garden we were there in Him, participating with him in that sinful act, and we died in him when he died. (Ro 5:17)

Not only did we inherit guilt for the original sin by being in our father Adam, we also inherited his evil nature, such that we all start out voluntarily engaging in sinful acts just like he did: we are all made sinners. (Ro 5:19) All of us start out in Adam as children of wrath just like everyone else (Ep 2:3), the god of this world operating in and through us (vs 2) as he pleases. (Jn 8:44a) We each start out this way, with Adam representing us before God as a sinner.

Yet just as we’re initially born sons of Adam, in receiving Christ we become sons of God. (Jn 1:12) This is no more an act on our part than being born physically is; being born of God (vs 13), conceived and begotten by Him according to His own will with the word of truth (Ja 1:18), is an act of God imparting life to us (Ep 2:5), moving us to trust in Him and love Him, as He becomes one with us. (1Co 6:17)

The sons of God are now in Christ, having a new federal Head, no longer in Adam; since Christ has perfect standing before God, so now also do we who believe. (Ro 8:1) Just as we were guilty in Adam’s sin, we are now innocent and pure before God in Christ because of Christ’s obedience, being made the righteousness of God in Him (2Co 5:21), counted perfectly righteous through the perfect obedience of Christ. (Ro 5:19)

Further, as we were all made actual sinners through the offense of Adam, such that we all inherited his evil nature and participated in it through voluntary acts of disobedience, so we who believe in Christ also inherit the holy nature of Christ such that we voluntarily walk in righteousness (Ro 5:19), set apart by the Spirit unto obedience. (1Pe 1:2)

Christ justly becomes our federal Head as we believe in Him, representing us before God and containing us within Himself, because He is willing to die in our place and become our sin when He has no sin of His own. (2Co 5:21) He is punished as a sinner when He is not a sinner; so the justice of God is honored as He justifies believers. In believing on Christ we experience a divine transaction, the exchange of our guilt for His righteousness: God sees the innocent travail of Christ and is satisfied on our behalf. (Is 53:11)

God is not unjust to receive us as righteous, even though we were born in Adam, because we have now been born spiritually into a new federal Representative: Christ Himself; we inherit His perfect righteousness as well as His righteous nature — while Christ becomes an offense to God on our behalf, and suffers everything we deserve for our sin. So, God can be just, and the justifier of anyone who believes in Jesus. (Ro 3:26)

Federal headship is both positional and practical – we recognize our position in Christ through the ongoing transformation of our inward nature into the likeness of Christ by the power of God. (2Co 5:17) Only being made a new creation in Christ can put us in right relationship with God. (Ga 6:15) The one we are in, who represents us before God, either Adam or Christ, and our nature and behavior, disobedient or obedient (Ro 2:6-8) — it all goes together; the one does not exist without the other. (Mt 12:33)

It is of God that we’re in Christ (1Co 1:30); salvation is a miracle we can’t live without. (Mt 19:26) The gospel is simply amazing, something no one could possibly invent: the wisdom of God in a mystery, which He ordained before the world unto our glory, and His. (1Co 2:7)

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A Consuming Fire

What’s God like? In being selective with scripture it’s easy to miss Him and fashion an idol after our own lusts. (1Jn 5:21) We should look at the whole of God’s revelation.

God is love, it’s true (1Jn 4:8), but that doesn’t mean He’s like a doting, harmless old grandfather.

God is also light (1Jn 1:5), the very medium by which we perceive spiritual reality. God is truth itself (Jn 14:6), undiluted, uncompromised, pure and holy. If we think we can fellowship with Him and not be seeking truth more than gold and silver, if we’re content to walk in darkness of any kind, to any degree, we don’t know Him. (1Jn 1:7)

God is also holy (1Pe 1:16), separate from sinners, higher than the heavens. (He 7:26) He calls us to holiness (2Co 7:1) because He won’t fellowship with anyone who walks in willful sin as a manner of life (1Jn 2:4); He’s angry with the wicked every day (Ps 7:11), and will trample them underfoot. (Ps 119:118) His response to any kind of rebellion is fiery indignation. (He 10:26-27)

We might get a clearer picture of God if we see Him as a consuming fire. (He 12:29) Like a raging wildfire, He’ll destroy anything and everything that’s opposed to Himself in any way (Ps 21:9) just by being Himself, by letting His very brightness shine forth undiluted, unfiltered, untamed. (2Th 2:8)

Yet God’s consuming nature will not annihilate the wicked; it will overwhelm, terrify, incapacitate and disable them with everlasting punishment. (Mt 25:46) God’s enemies will no longer be able to act like enemies when God reveals Himself. That’s a good thing, for God and for everyone – totally consistent with love: God shouldn’t have to suffer forever, and His arms will always be open to anyone who’ll come to Him. (Re 22:17)

God’s love is what fuels His justice and wrath, even His hatred. He’s benevolent, so He hates (or detests) sin and those who persist in it. (Ps 5:5) Sin harms ourselves, others and God, so He won’t overlook sin and let it go; there’s a price to pay. (Ro 3:23) We must pay that price ourselves, a debt we can never ever pay in full, or trust God to pay it for us in His Son; Christ is willing to become our sin, and die in our place so we might be made God’s righteousness in Christ. (2Co 5:21)

God is good, but He isn’t nice: God’s not safe; serve Him with reverential fear and rejoice with trembling. (Ps 2:11) Both His goodness and severity are awesome and beautiful (Ro 11:22), simply awe inspiring (He 12:21); we should rejoice in all His ways. (Re 15:4)

It’s a fearful thing to fall into God’s hands (He 10:31), but there are no other options; it isn’t a matter of if, but when. For those who love Him, who are seeking God’s face, there’s no better place to be. (Php 1:23)

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The Law Is Spritual

Laws defining acceptable behavior are spiritual in nature, not physical; they express a moral standard by which we may evaluate our actions. In this sense, God’s Law, Torah, is spiritual, perfectly expressing God’s Way. (Ro 7:14a)

We, on the other hand, are carnal, sold under sin, tending to violate God’s perfect standard. (Ro 7:14b) In this state our sin nature is always looking for ways to justify breaking God’s Law (Ro 7:21); the carnal mind won’t ever submit – it’s at war with goodness itself. (Ro 8:6)

Attempts to subvert Torah can be extremely crafty, using sleight of hand to make the point. (Ep 4:14) One such teaching is that since Torah is spiritual, we need not bother with the letter of the Law. In other words, as long as we’re in keeping with what we think is the spirit of a command, it’s OK to ignore its actual wording and break it. For example, if the spirit of Sabbath is a weekly rest, does it really matter whether we rest on Saturday or Sunday?

This begs the question of whether we can properly honor the spirit of a command while we’re despising its letter, what it actually says. If the sabbath command tells us to rest on a particular day of the week, which it does (Ex 20:10), and we choose to rest on a different day, are we breaking the command? Of course we are, by definition.

While it’s true that God’s laws have spiritual applications, perhaps many such applications, it’s a mistake to think each law doesn’t also have a specific, practical application; it is presumptuous to claim we’re keeping a law in spirit – spiritualizing it – while we’re disobeying it literally. Who are we to say what all the spiritual applications of a particular command are, or even the primary application?

The words are what God has given us, and what He expects us to obey (De 27:26); as we look at the words of all of His commands, as well as all His examples, we begin to understand some of the spirit and intent behind His laws, the precepts. But all of this is based on the very words He uses, the letter, if you will. We can’t rightly divide the Word while we’re ignoring the actual words; we can’t respect the intent of His Law while we’re routinely breaking it; this is handling His word deceitfully and corrupting it. (2Co 2:17)

Certainly, there may be extenuating circumstances where the spirit of a command might be respected while we’re violating its letter. For example, in an emergency we might technically violate the sabbath to preserve life, even of an animal. (Mt 12:11) The sabbath was made for us; we weren’t made for it. (Mk 2:27) We must use common sense in the application of God’s law, and not violate the Law of Love as we force technical obedience to the letter of the law.

God’s Law is written such that it’s the exception to properly violate the letter; for the letter perfectly captures the intent, as a general rule. If we love God’s law, and He’s writing it in our hearts, we’ll be keeping it as well as we can, both the letter and the spirit, as a manner of life. (Mt 5:19)

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Dull of Hearing

An inability to hear or see severely limits our opportunity to receive new information. Most of us cherish our sight and hearing in the natural realm, but not so much in the spiritual; we tend to think we’ve already arrived (Php 3:13), to be wise in our own conceits (Ro 12:16c), thinking we already know it all. We tend to close ourselves off to anything new, choosing to ignore what doesn’t fit with our preconceptions, dimming our own sight and dulling our own ears, locking ourselves into our current errors and limited understanding. (Mt 13:15)

When we read our Bibles in this state, or participate in spiritual discussions, we aren’t really listening with an intent to learn; we’re waiting for an opportunity to reinforce or show off what we think we already know. We ignore and dismiss ideas which might contradict our current view; we want to be perceived to be right, rather than actually being right. We become dull of hearing, unteachable. (He 5:11)

Scripture calls such behavior loving darkness, and it’s our natural state (Jn 3:19); it takes an act of God to wake us up (Ep 2:1) and fill us with love for truth. (2Ti 2:25) Apart from God’s intervention, making us truth lovers, we’d all be deceived and eternally damned. (2Th 2:10)

How do we know if we’re dull of hearing? Simple: when we perceive something inconsistent with our current way, how do we respond? In the natural realm, we carefully consider obstacles and incorporate them into our world view, understanding them and navigating them, or leveraging them as tools to help us on our way. But if we’re constantly ignoring and dismissing reality itself, stumbling over the aspects of it we don’t like and not even noticing, it proves we’re blind, deaf and insensitive to pain – disconnected from the natural world and largely unaware of it. (Jn 11:10) In such brokenness, we don’t tend to last very long. (Mt 15:14)

When we perceive any aspect of reality which might not align with our current world view, a lover of truth pauses and carefully reflects on this new information. What am I missing? How does this fit with my current understanding? If something doesn’t fit, I need to adjust my thinking until it does … until everything fits into a coherent whole. I am poor in spirit; I need others to challenge me, to help me see my blind spots, where I’ve been deceived, where darkness still dwells in me. Everyone knows something I don’t; let my hearing be clear and sharp, so I can learn what I should as God crosses our paths.

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Your Own Conceits

The carnal nature in us, our old man, presumes we already know all we need to know; we don’t seek truth since we think we already have enough. It often operates in a vacuum of desperate self-deception (Re 3:17); the less we know the more confident we are in our understanding: in the extreme, it’s being utterly confident while knowing virtually nothing. (Pr 26:16)

We can detect this well-known principle operating in us, called the Dunning-Kruger effect, when we find ourselves over-estimating our own ability or knowledge, or underestimating that of others. Simply ask, what do I really know about this? How well do my ideas hold up under the scrutiny of experts who disagree with me? How well do I understand their best counter-arguments? Do I have training and experience demonstrating my capability under stress? What are the true boundaries of this area? Is my confidence based on facts or presumption? Whenever we find ourselves smugly confident, unwilling to listen to and deeply consider the claims, opinions or skills of others, we’re deceiving ourselves. (Ja 1:22)

Were it not for the restraining grace of God, our sin nature here would put each of us well beyond hope (Ro 7:24), for one who thinks he already knows has closed his mind (Mt 13:15) and can’t learn. (Pr 26:12) But this presumption is simply pride rooted in lies; we can learn from anyone, we can always improve if we’re poor in spirit and love the truth. As we perceive this arrogance operating within, it’s time to humble ourselves, soften our hearts, and repent. (Ja 4:10)

Rather than thinking we’ve arrived (Php 3:13-14) and are superior to others (Ro 2:19), God tells us all to be not wise in our own conceits (Ro 12:16c): helping each other seek and find the truth (a), esteeming others better, focusing first on fundamentals, along with the lowly. (b) Generally, when we’re missing it big, we’re missing the basics. (Mt 23:23)

This isn’t to say that we can’t be confident in our knowledge of God (Je 9:24), that we must always be doubting everything. (2Ti 1:12) There is room in faith and humility for confidence and certainty. (He_10:22) While that is true, it is also true that we don’t know everything about anything. (1Co 8:2) We can be both confident and teachable, grounded in the truth while ever seeking more of it.

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Like a Lost Sheep

Sheep may be the most defenseless, vulnerable creatures on earth; they tend to die when they roll over, unable to get up, and when they get lost, since their primary defense is in being part of a herd. The very brain of the sheep is hardwired to follow other sheep, so isolated sheep become agitated, and when one sheep goes off in a bad direction, the rest will likely follow.

We’re all like sheep in that we’ve all gone astray, turned from the right way, to live our own way. (Is 53:6) Even the godly Psalmist admits this (Ps 119:176a), asking Jehovah, his shepherd (Ps 23:1), to seek him (176b), grounding his request in the fact that he has kept hold of God’s commandments; he has not forgotten them. (176c)

Asking God to seek us when we aren’t keeping His commands in our hearts, trying to obey Him the best we know how, is nonsense — like a man pleading to be rescued while resisting and fending off his rescuer, trying desperately to get away — it’s a contradiction. We don’t even want to be found if we’re not already obeying God the best we know how; this kind of seeking is just the carnal mind playing tricks, not wanting to be reconciled with God at all, just wanting to avoid the tragic consequences of rebellion. (Ge 4:13)

Yet we can easily go astray, even as we’re keeping God’s commands in view. We can be dull in our understanding of God’s Way (Ps 73:22), unable to fully perceive even as we’re trying our best (1Co 8:2), incapable of detecing our own blind spots. (Re 3:17) Ignorance not only blinds us (Ep 4:18), it blinds us to our very blindness. (Jn 9:40-41)

In our lostness we’re thus truly lost; like a lost sheep, we’re utterly unable to find our way back to God on our own. (Ro 7:24) We’ve only one hope: that God Himself will rescue us (25a) as we serve His law with our minds as best we can (25b), in spite of the insidious nature of our old man. (25c) It’s not a vain hope though, it’s a valid one: God finds all who seek Him. (He 11:6)

Seeking God is seeking truth wherever we can find it: in the Word, in science, in history, and in others. Thoughtful perspective in others is particularly helpful; all of us see things a bit differently, perceiving things about each other and the world that the rest of us miss. We should value differing opinion like gold, asking others to challenge our thinking and looking carefully at their reasoning. What are we still missing? The slightest indication that we aren’t fully aligned with reality at every level of our consciousness is a window to more truth; we should jump at the opportunity to climb through it.

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