Crossways Concepts

Because it is all about the cross...

Insights from the scripture as lead by the Holy Spirit

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Truth or Fiction? The Lines Between Them Blur

It can be confusing...

We live in a world that is full of fantastic and amazing things.  You can go to the movies and see  perfectly believable sights of worlds that don't exist.  We look at our media and see programs that feature ghosts, aliens and wizards.  It all seems so real, but we know it isn't real, don't we?

We then live in a world where lies have become culturally acceptable.  It seems that everything you hear must be taken with a grain of salt.  You can even turn on the news and hear somebody explain the “facts”, then listen to somebody else describe a view that is 180° from the first guy.  How are you supposed to know what is real?

Then when people go to church, they listen to a much less believable story of this guy Jesus who was supposed to have raised the dead, commanded the weather and walked on water.  Face it, this stuff is really hard to believe.

In today's world we are continually met with truths, half-truths and flat-out lies.  This all contributes to making us very skeptical consumers of information.  Furthermore, we find it terribly difficult to trust anybody except ourselves, because we don't know whether they tell us the truth or lies.

The problem for the church is that our pews are full of people that are there because they enjoy church but they don't really, deep-down believe in Jesus.  In their minds, they have classified the stories of the Bible not into the “absolutely true” category but into a “maybe true” category.  The story of Jesus feeding 5000 from one boy's lunch, gets a level of belief that is similar to the belief applies to visits from aliens.  That belief might be described as, “it sounds pretty crazy, but I can really say it didn't happen and it doesn't affect me much anyway, so I'll mostly accept it until I hear something contrary.”

This isn't really the basis for the kind of faith required in the Bible.  The faith described in the Bible is one that permeates our soul and changes our actions and who we are.  Many of these half-believing people in our pews had a big faith sometime in the past, but that faith leaked away.

In many ways, our faith is like our stomach, our stomach can be filled up, but then after a while it is no longer full.  In the same way, we can have a big faith in God only to have it eroded away until we have almost no faith at all.  With our faith or our stomach, the answer to this process of emptying is to refill.  Yet, just as our stomachs won't be filled if we just sit there, to refill our faith also requires a conscious effort.  When our stomach is empty, we eat; when our faith needs filled we need to go to the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

It seems that when our faith starts to erode, the first thing to go is the concept of God's current reality.  It is so much easier to believe that God did all these things back thousands of years ago, than it is to believe that God is with you right now.  It is simpler to accept that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, than it is to believe that there is a Holy Spirit living inside you that cares about what you do today.

You can ask most church-goers about, “what do you believe about Jesus” and they will happily recite back what they have heard in church.  Yet, if you ask people about what do they believe is God's role in their life today, then they start to stutter and may describe a very passive, disinterested God, not at all the God described in the Bible.

King David liked to refer to God as the “Living God”.  Over time this concept of Him being living and active in our lives has faded.  Yet that very idea is critically necessary for real faith.  If we are going to worship a God of long ago, we might as well worship a rock.

Our God loves us, every single day.  The only way that He can love us, as corrupt as we are, is to have active mercy and grace, every day.  Since He loves us, He hears our prayers, every day.  With His love comes His guidance, provided every day.  Because He is God, His power and His miracles are at work in our world, every day.

There is not a day that God isn't working in miraculous and amazing ways caring for His people and furthering His kingdom.  Just this week, I have seen a miraculous answer to prayer.  There is absolutely no explanation to what I saw, except that God answered a prayer because He is a wonderful God, that hears prayers, He unlocked a vehicle that had the keys locked inside, 150 miles from home in the middle of nowhere.  I know that door was locked, then a couple of hours later, it was unlocked.  Our God is a good God, every single day.

God has so many blessings for the one who seeks him, who knows that He is there for them today.  Just as the scripture says that, “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1), He is always with us, especially when we are in need.

As you look through the bible you see a God that can beat unbeatable odds, who gets His people out of jams, who forgives and forgives.  He shows Himself as a God for which nothing is impossible.  The scripture shows us how He provides strength when human strength isn't possibly enough.  He takes the broken-hearted and provides healing.  He provides guidance to lead His people along His perfect plan.  He never stops loving His people, no matter what.

It might be easier to just to accept this as the long-ago God, but “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8).  The God of the bible IS the God of today.  He is your God, He is my God.  Everything He did in the bible, He can do today.  Everything from scripture that He did for His people, He does today.

We have a simple choice.  

We can ignore that God is participating in our lives and just think of Him as the God of the long-ago bible-times.  This is a seemingly easy option because it doesn't require much faith and it allows us to go along with what everybody else does, except we might go to church.  However, I know from experience, this option feels very empty.

Alternately, we can accept that God is the God of here and now, a God that wants to be deeply involved in every detail of our lives and a God that loves us more than we can imagine.  When we begin to walk, work and exist within an awareness and dependence on Him, then the incredible God of the bible becomes the God that is active in our life.  Then the amazing lives we read about in the bible, can be us – a life transformed by the power of God, the Almighty.
To really believe in this Living God, an active, participatory God of our daily lives requires faith.  “Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).  This faith won't just maintain itself.  Over time our faith tends to leak, to evaporate, to fade or otherwise slip away.  The only prevention for this faith leakage is to spend time in His presence, allowing Him to fill us.

Then, pray to Him like He want to be prayed to, involve Him in all aspects of your life; your relationships, your successes, your failures, your pleasures, your annoyances – everything that you are about, he cares about.  Then, because He is an active and powerful God, watch for His hand, listen for His voice and expect the impossible (even in the small things).  Knowing that He is the only real source of power, seek Him like it is the most important thing you can do.  When He begins to be the master over the details of your life, then relish those feelings of hope, true joy and peace that He gives you and remember that the greatest rewards are yet to come.

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Lexington, Ky