The World Within the World (Irreducible Complex part 5)

“But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (1 Corinthians 1:30)

I’ve been “made”

No, not like that. It means found out. When God walked through the Garden, asking where Adam was (see Genesis 3:9), don’t you think He already knew? If He interacted with us without coming down to our level, what kind of God would He be? “He hath not dealt with us after our sins” (Psalm 103:10) Says David. This is why He sent Jesus to live as a human. So that we would have something more than the apex of biology to aspire to. Paul says this in his first letter to Timothy (4:8a): “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” He’s not saying to not work out and take care of your body. He’s referring to a wider lens with which he’s viewing this thing called “life”. Because there’re two kinds of it and it’s more than semantics. God might have used my mother and father to give me a body–brain, blood, bone, etc.–but the substance of my being? My soul and spirit, for lack of any better terms, were made by Him. I believe that while my brain fires in response to my environment, my reaction to it is where my soul and spirit utilize the biological hardware I came with. Because without my body, I’d never have been able to wander around on this planet until God found me.

Balancing the scales

Life is complex. From the world in which we live and move to the density of our brains and bodies, one would be a fool to dismiss the inherent beauty of this thing called. If you’re reading this, know you have it. Life and its four stages (or seven, depending on your source)–growth and development, reproduction, response to the environment and organization–are carrying you around even as we speak. Each moment and each cell a gift from God.

“Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?” (Lamentations 3:39) Jeremiah asks this near rhetorical question. You have life. You’re here to enjoy the ups and downs and ins and outs of existence and God wants to put his finger on sin? But you’re alive! We can explain away “sin” or “sins” as the product of living by our wits. Or we can lay down our clockwork wills in acknowledgement of something greater than us. It costs something. It costs the very (physical) life with which we’ve been gifted in order to get something that we’re not born with: God’s life.

“And He said this unto His disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat (i.e. food) and the body is more than raiment.” (Luke 12:22-23) The Greek word translated “life” in this verse, is “zoe”. It refers to a deeper thing than simple (complex) biology. Jesus is telling His disciples here to focus on the bedrock of our existence in relation with Him: the fact that we’re here to experience and maybe even enjoy it at all. Because life is a miracle, plain and simple. Whether you’ve read enough books to substantiate your doubt in a Creator, or you still believe in spite of the “evidence”. Just as long as you don’t not care either way, life is wondrous. Gratitude is the order of the day. It’s one thing to pull apart the subjects in your textbook–fascinating though they may be. It’s quite another to live practically and pragmatically (i.e. by our wits) after we’ve accrued a little knowledge of how things work, knowing that unless we work (to put it plainly), we’re not going to be able to feed and clothe ourselves. But if the lowest strata of existence is indeed a spiritual one, one to which we’re not privy unless we’re on the same wavelength as God, it behooves us to take in this tincture of information that you won’t find anywhere in a world that is fascinated with only what it can see, touch and quantify.

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life (zoe); and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:11-12)

Removing the scales

So what are we waiting for? This is where the rubber meets the road. We all can do better. Give. The problems in this world are easily solvable. From the greatest to the least, practice a little counterintuition. Whereas acquisition and accomplishment might seem to be in keeping with the four (or seven) stages of biological life, they don’t necessarily lend themselves to bettering those who just can’t seem to muster up a little “homeostasis” (one of the seven actually). Because if Jesus gave His life, the least I can do is give a moment or two to someone who may or may not need anything. Just a word, a smile, an idea–or a cup of coffee after lunch. There are untapped storehouses in Heaven that, if you believe in God and His abundance, are ours for the drawing. And it’s all wrapped up in the love of God as lived out through Jesus, spiritually first. And physically.

Don’t forget to do it in love, however: “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3)

20130209-195043.jpg

All the Time in the World (Irreducible Complex part 4)

Space Age

The concept of free will is up for grabs these days. And it makes sense when you think about it–along these lines. Us. A product of the outworking of billions and billions of years and billions of constituent parts swirling around and finding structure and order in a giant space. And as each of those parts are merely doing what they were created, er, made to do, it would seem that we are, for better or worse, “irreducibly complex”. The singularity was. It blew apart and it’s come together the way you see it now. “Irreducibly complex” is a phrase coined by Creationist Michael Behe to identify the impossiblility of our bodies having been created rather than evolved. The idea is, many of our systems cannot afford to lose or gain one piece in order to continue functioning as it was intended, er…designed. Or whatever. And that’s a simplistic paraphrase. If I leave off believing in God as the “Watchmaker”, I’d have to radically change my parlance. Oh, I’m willing, don’t get me wrong, it’s how I’m made up. I’d change my argot, as it were, and you’d find no reference to God in any of my words. But that would only happen were I totally shut off from the God I believe in and know and love. It’s black and white for me. And I would (my will, you understand) have it no other way. All the preceding aside, I absolutely couldn’t care less about what happened prior to six-thousand years ago. The peace and closure that stems from hearing and reading about such things devoid of God’s touch doesn’t hold a candle to the love that Jesus shows me and shows through me. There’s no such thing as love if all we are is “billion year old carbon”. We have to get ourselves back to the garden. Naive, I know. But more knowledge doesn’t necessarily lead to servanthood nor selflessness, let alone miracles.

The way of the dinosaur

“And in the morning, it will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:3)

I find it remarkable, as the relatively paltry number of seconds tick away in our lives, that people are so brutally resistant to the idea of God. Yes, He’s been bandied about ad nauseam for thousands upon thousands of years. Different religions bring their structures and strictures to the table. But look around you. Yes, He’s been blamed for tragedies and disbelieved in as a result. Turn it around though. How often does one acknowledge a God, let alone a good One, when good things happen? The sunrise? The sunset? The clouds billowing prior to a rainstorm? Three things of inexpressable beauty that can (and are) explained away through the lens of unbelief. The wonder of which, does not go to the top floor.

Winding Down

“In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.” (Colossians 2:3-4)

I’m actually quite serious about this. We as Christians are not called to appeal to the unbeliever through the rhetoric of, how can I say this, a broader fact base. Because the world is so infinitely complex as to render anyone speechless with wonder. It’s the condition of a soft heart that inspires one to lay down their preconceived notions as to who God is or is not, or not. And that’s something that, in each and every one of us, the Holy Spirit has access to. As you live out the love of Jesus (don’t pay attention to the time) with every one you meet and every situation you encounter, hearts will be changed. Minds will be renewed and life will go on. Because I know God’s real. All this other stuff will work itself out.

20130208-202954.jpg

Tools of the Trade (Irreducible Complex part 3)

Blunt instruments

“And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.” (1 Kings 6:7)

Interesting symbolism. The above is referring to Solomon’s construction of the Temple. And when it says how every block of stone was carved from some other place where the cacaphony of chisels and hammers couldn’t be heard from the Temple, I would like to draw a parallel.

“Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” (Proverbs 24:3-4)

Is it too much a stretch to compare the stones with which God’s house was built to believers? The act of carving and fitting them for integration within to a believer’s vocation (whatever it may be) in the world? I.e. something non-church related? Try it on, see if it fits. Because everyone has gifts. Tools that God wants to make use of wherever we find ourselves. And I’d wager to say that you’re exactly where God wants you right now. If you disagree, I won’t argue with you. The lessons of life can be learned in any building or any field. God is not limited by four walls. We blunt His effectiveness when we think that everything has to be done within a church framework and a denominationally (any denomination) sanctioned program.

The hammer/screwdriver paradox

As an aside, I’m sure there is an actual name for that. The “hammer/screwdriver paradox” might not be it, it’s probably not too far a cry though. We have a tendency to taxonomize and attach labels for everything under the sun.

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Where do you find yourself? Should you desire some greener grass, look around. God wants to make the ground on which you stand a fertile field. He wants to use you where you’re at. When Jesus says that peacemakers shall be called “children of God”, the thing is, you are a child of God. You know this. But others may not. Jesus seems to imply here that, should you let the peace of God flow through you to bless your workplace, your classroom, your study hall or wherever you may be, those who are “pre-Christians” as my Pastor would call them, will know we’re God’s. They’ll know. You’ll stand out. Don’t think that you’re of no use where you are. God has the ability to fit a round peg into a square hole. To use a hammer for a screw. The thing is, it’s not our place to determine how or when or where. The gifts and tools He’s placed in you are exactly the right ones for the problems you’re facing. And as you find yourself away from your church building, being chiseled at here and there, the struggles you’re facing are both sharpening your skills and also being solved by that same skillset. God wastes nothing.

“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prohpets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way.” (2 Corinthians 12:27-31)

Love is that more excellent way. And if there’s one thing we possess that the world needs but doesn’t have, it’s God’s love. That is┬áthe only tool we really need. Don’t worry about what you might lack or what you want that you think belongs to someone else only. Everything flows from God. And right back to Him. He’ll outfit you for where you’re at and also where you’re supposed to be.

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5)

Lively stones? Lovely stones.

All Encompassing (Irreducible Complex part 2)

“And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15)

Life

God is the ultimate giver. When you think about it, if you believe He created you, it should follow that He intends to outfit you throughout your life. He gives life. He sustains it. With reference to stuff though, I think it’s a blessing that the things we own wear down, break down and fail. And with certain objects and possessions, it’s a sort-of comfort to know that we can fix them should need be. Maybe not a car, but certainly a bicycle? Maybe we can’t fix our computer on our own, but it certainly makes for praise and adulation and respect toward the one who can. We can live with one kidney and one lung–and one heart. There are things, however, that we must, must, care for and learn how to maintain because God gives us one. We get one chance to get it right and barring some sort of supernatural miracle (God’s good for it, just so you know), it’s not likely we’ll get a chance to do it over.

Breath

“In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away…” (Luke 17:31a)

Who knows what time it is. In the grand scheme of things, it would seem that it’s later than we know. Things are falling apart for lack of care and we’re caught in the middle for better or worse. The infrastructure in many parts of America is in such a sad state that it’s a miracle we’re still able to live the way we’re accustomed, let alone not even aware of it. I don’t fully understand all the issues surrounding Global Warming but I do know that the amount of plastic in our oceans is appalling and execrable. All this aside, it’s certainly not a time to be worrying, nor is it a time for a misplaced revelling that doesn’t look at a grander picture. And as Christians, there is a greater picture than just the ground on which we live and walk. Pan out.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” (1 Timothy 6:6-7)

But it doesn’t mean we don’t care for the things we already have. How can we move on (and not just to Heaven) unless we meet and complete the requirements God has laid out for us now? What do you think those who have invested their lives in the care and concern for a habitable habitation (i.e. Earth) think of Christians who couldn’t care less for the world, whether God created it or not?

“That which has been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.” (Ecclesiastes 3:15)

All things

“He giveth to all life, breath, and all things.” (Acts 17:25)

Boil it down. Give all those things that God gave (including life and breath) back to Him. No, this doesn’t mean that you pull a loaded-to-the-gills moving van up to your local shelter and donate your whole life. It means to consciously look at what we have and see it as something that leads back to “Our Father who art in Heaven”. If you can’t see it as such, maybe there’s someone else out there who can? The Holy Spirit will let you know who to give it to. Everyone acting in concert, following God’s leading for their lives as it pertains to possessions, will change the world.

“All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him. And He turned Him unto His disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see:” (Luke 10:22-23)

See, Jesus is our greatest possession. And yet, we belong to Him. How does this work?

20130206-163119.jpg

Travelling Light (Irreducible Complex part 1)

“And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.” (Luke 22:35)

Such things

The very concept of simplicity is greatly appealing to me. Maybe it’s because I got nearly everything I wanted as a child. I might’ve been spoiled but I wasn’t spoiled rotten. The older I get, the more I seek to add only those things that are needful. And anymore, I’d rather be putting out and creating and giving than merely getting. It might be more blessed to give than receive (see Acts 20:35), but the peace and joy and purpose one gets from giving and serving, is worth the price of admission.

“But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

When I was a kid, after first having read and comprehended what Jesus is asking of (and promising) me in this verse, I had a great deal of internal struggle with my wants and desires. Seeing all the things that the other kids had and wanting the same (I did get stuff, just not in a timeframe that suited my selfishness). Thank God I’ve grown out of that. Oh, sure, as an adult, there are still things I desire. But I seek to sift through my wants and to winnow them to what applies to what I believe God is doing in my life. And without the intangible qualities of the Holy Spirit–things like peace and contentment and purpose–no thing is going to make me any happier or closer to God and to who He desires me to be. I find that in America, the acquisition of stuff is akin to idolatry. Turn it around on its head though, and make sure that you don’t idolize the zen-like simplicity of having all your ducks in a row merely for its own sake. Because there are things we’d like and things we need.

“Then said He unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip (like a wallet): and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” (Luke 22:36)

Such and such things

“…and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.” (2 Samuel 12:8b) This is Nathan the prophet, speaking for God, to David after David had Uriah killed. Notice the tone of God. Absolutely willing to give David whatever it was he wanted. Such and such things…

God wants us to be happy. He also wants us to be joyful. More so the latter, if I may. Because His joy is like the root that produces the fruit of happiness, it might seem that things are dry above ground and nothing’s happening. But we’re not moles. I would say that most times, God doesn’t let us see how things are growing underground. Rest assured they are. Endeavoring to know “the joy of the Lord” is something that is totally worth the time it takes to do so. The dryness I experienced as a kid was akin to drilling through rock in order to reach the depth of God over which I had layered years and years of hedonism and materialism. It takes as long as it takes. The root that’s growing under the surface is here to stay. With pruning, it’ll get deeper, but it’ll Spring back stronger than before, producing more fruit than you ever thought possible.

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11) This is David speaking of God. I would say that those God used to write the Bible would not have been allowed, or able for that matter, to do so unless they had lived through the meanings that their words pointed to. David knew the bounty of the Lord, and it would seem he could’ve known more. What is the bounty of the Lord? It’s everything good that we have. And it starts with the intangible qualities of the Holy Spirit coupled with both our physical and spiritual life. How much do we need to be happy? If were not grateful for the things that God has already given us (and seen to it that we indeed receive) nothing will satisfy us.

“For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.” (Romans 14:17-18)

20130205-213959.jpg