Saturday, February 7, 2015

Do We Know God?--by Linden Malki

 "Everything I have, I worked for, I made myself! I don't owe anybody anything!"  Typical American self-reliance at its best!   When I heard someone say this the other day, the first thing I thought of was "Very good; you made air, you made water, you made sunlight, you made some great trees..."  Like the story of the scientist who said he could make life in a laboratory. You just take some dirt, and... A Voice boomed out--"No, that's Mine--you have to make your own dirt!"

A lot of folks don't find it too hard to think that there might be Something Out There,  behind the Big Bang.  Maybe even made the Big Bang. Maybe even had something to do with making other stuff.  Yes, hard work and taking responsibility are a Good Thing--but not the only thing.  St Paul, writing to a church in a city that included some people who didn't know about our God, said "that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has showed it to them. For the invisible things of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made".  The problem is that taking God seriously is not easy for your basic, self-willed, self-centered human being.

Looking at the world and trying to explain the unexplainable leads in all sorts of places.  The history of "world religions" is the search for something that people sense is out there, beyond themselves. The story we find in the Bible is different-there is a God who looks for us, even when we are afraid that He might ask uncomfortable things.

We read of people like Abraham, jacob, Job, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah and others who not only knew about God, but knew Him personally.   There is a thread that runs all the way through from beginning to end--His promise that  He will make a way for us to know Him in a way that no other philosophy or belief system can provide.

A man named Philip in the first century asked to be shown the God, the Father.  He had been a follower of Jesus for three years at this time.  Jesus gave Philip this amazing answer: "I have been with you for a long time, and don't you know Me? Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father! .. Can't you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? That the words I speak are not my own, but the Father that is in Me does it all."  Jesus spent three years demonstrating God to folks in a limited geographical area, but what God said and did in these three years were so powerful that within a century this knowledge of God had spread to a good part of the then-known world; and today still has the power to change lives.

Despite the many ways we have available to learn of God, there have always been a variety of opinions and beliefs about God. Obviously, they are not consistent with each other, and not equivalent.  It is our responsibility to  open our minds and hearts to God's truth , and pray for ourselves and each other as St Paul prayed for the Ephesians (who were living in a busy, prosperous but corrupt city--the first-century Roman Empire was in many ways like the world we live in today) for spiritual wisdom and insight; light and hope of His calling, and understanding of the mighty power of God working in our lives.

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