Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Reality of God--by Linden Malki

"If there is no God, then everything is permitted."  This sounds too much like our world today, but it is the cry of Ivan Karamazov,  the intellectual brother in Dostoevsky's 1880 Russian novel The Brothers Karamazov. He rejects God in the name of the existence of suffering, but finds that this rejection causes even more suffering. 

It seems like one of the standard responses to overwhelming evil in our society is that "we have taken God out of the schools, our government...". It usually means that we should reimpose religious observance, as if having everybody go through the right motions will cure evil. I may be getting in way over my head here, but it looks like imposing rules doesn't automatically work. The ancient Israelites had 1500 years of experience with rules brought from God through Moses, but it didn't create a perfect, sinless society--it brought a cycle of disobedience, restoration, and rules imposed on society that did not reach the heart. It wasn't that there weren't enough rules. Jesus said that He didn't come to bring more rules but to fulfill the original plan of God--to change the human heart from the inside. 

This is our challenge, I think, of God-followers: to show by our lives that God is real and will make us into His family. We are to confront people not with law, but with the power of God. We will never do it perfectly, but if we don't submit to His power, we won't do it at all. In trying to make a "good" society through human effort, we impose more and more regulation and more and more limitations on what we can say and do. But we don't have much of a human answer to those who reject those regulations than more rules and limitations.

Jesus came to those who were living in the shadow of God's law, to bring light. So how do we tap God's transforming power? That is where I see the NorthPoint experience going--not imposing rules on the outside of our lives, but imposing the life of God's Spirit on hearts--our own first of all. 

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