Saturday, January 17, 2009

"I tried God and he never did anything for me!"

Quite understandably yet irrationally, naturalist Charles Darwin was one of many who felt a rejection from God at the loss of a loved one (his daughter Annie). According to biographers, the incident served as fuel to his departure from faith in God:

"Annie’s cruel death destroyed Charles’ tatters of beliefs in a moral, just universe. Later he would say that this period chimed the final death-knell for his Christianity...Charles now took his stand as an unbeliever
," [Desmond, Moore; Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist].

First and foremost, the principle that truly matters in spiritual security is the Law of Faith. This is faith in the work of Christ and not oneself (Galatians 3:22-26). In terms of one's salvation, a strong emphasis must be put on the Law of Faith. However, when deviating from such spiritual linguistics, one can often contemplate the sincere questions: What happens after that? Why do some lose confidence in the goodness (or even the existence) of God? Whether salvation is instantaneous or a process, which is an ongoing debate among believers, faith in the work of Christ is always, of course, the key (if not only) ingredient. Here, I will be providing both perspectives on faith and salvation. Neither, in this instant, is assumed superior to the other; rather, this is a general attempt and honest approach to the complexities of both positions.

In the case of individuals who denounce their faith, it might be easier to understand salvation as a gift from God only for those whom He, through His foresight, delights in their level of authenticity with regards to faith. Perhaps if God already knew that one's faith was not even the size of a mustard seed, nor will ever be such, He does not save them in the first place ("save" meaning "grant salvation"). This is a general approach to the doctrine of instantaneous salvation.

Now, taking the position of salvation as a process, a great number of individuals are under the impression that God's sole purpose is that of a magician, thus heedlessly and immediately relieving all problems and granting all wishes. Realistically, the majority of people have been given an efficient amount of strength to endure emotional problems; hence, the revealed method of God is to first meet one at halfway point rather than by force (Revelation 3:20) or by way of winning hearts
over by frequently and negligently subsidizing inane material things and performing tricks. However, the only ingredient for "meeting God halfway" is by having faith in the goodness of God no matter how severe the situation. There are no required tasks, deeds, practices, or rituals. Jeremiah 29:13 states, "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." Due to the idea that man was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), in many cases, one can use human emotions to metaphorically represent those of God: The reasonable guardian delights in seeing the guarded grow. This involves the volition of the guarded to grow in his faith rather than urging the need for confinement or some form of "moral captivity".

Hence, salvation, according to this logic, may constitute more than a simple transaction in which all wrongs immediately become rights. Rather, it is a process that spans beyond a single moment thus remaining an unceasing commitment. Philippians 2:12 says, "...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling," as the continuity of surrender to Christ is a necessity in order for the work of Christ to be further manifested. "Process salvation" asks these questions: Would not the paramount gift, as all gifts, have both a giver and a receiver, consequently, one in which must be received and carried by the recipient i
n order to ultimately prosper? One's faith in Christ is of key importance, yet he must know that his own life was never promised to become a complete heaven on earth.

Having said that, I want to add that human inclination, as it is gone astray from God, is an adherence to sin. Is it so that a number of wildlife species kill (not always for food or protection, but potentially due to rage), steal, and, by human rationale, rape? Because wildlife defines the idea of "nature", it can, in such cases, be used to mirror that of human nature. This does not serve as a justification for humans to act accordingly due to the fact that humans hold other advanced capabilities that exceed sheer instinct, such as reason and the potential acquisition of morality. Partially, faith serves as a development of these properties, under the work of Christ and not one's own, as well as an endeavor to improve negative tendencies for the glorification of a holy God. The old saying "actions speak louder than words" can be applied to this concept for times when inactivity molds an idle liar. If one does not carry such a commitment, God does not force His ultimate blessing onto those who truly do not accept it.

"Unanswered" Prayers: The common man prays, "I want a cookie right now!" And God responds, "If you'd listen to what I say, tomorrow it will bring you 100 cookies." It is only human to understand one's frustration when it comes to prayer, and though many have frequented the following explanation, it remains essential. One should be aware of the disposition to forget that "no" is an answer, or that "yes" does not necessarily promise immediately, but in time - days, weeks, months, even years. Indeed it initially sounds as though it is merely a cop-out of an explanation, however, the given are the primary linguistic interpretations when it comes to prayer. Realistically, one does not listen by direct and physical, vocal responses when communicating with God. The responses in which one receives are the happenings in one's life, yet a "blank incident" is logically impossible.

God's will with regard to prayer operates by a foreknowledge of all things (e.g. what one wants, what is best, what will happen, and how all will react), and to a timeless, foreseeing Spirit, the outcome determines the answer to the prayer. God's "incidental silence" is equivalent to "my will be done", and "my will be done" is equivalent to either "no" or "not yet". This does not mean that God will not answer "yes", it only means that, by His foreknowledge, He knows what one wants and what is best beforehand (hence, Jesus instructs us to pray "God's will be done" in Matthew 6:10). By this we know that every prayer has an answer because "silence" is both an indirect statement and a coming answer when there is a plan by God (there is always a plan by God, both universally and personally). Common is the saying "be careful what you wish for", hence we live under the implication that a "yes" can be harmful to one's self, or another, proving an unconsciousness of decisions beyond the personal realm; alternatively, God's ultimate pre-eminence is one's great security.

"There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, 'All right, then, have it your way.'" ~C.S. Lewis

In light of the words of C.S. Lewis, I want to add that showing favor for God's judgment before one's own ultimately results in receiving the desires of the heart.
Yet having made these assertions, I also want to note that it is simply not wrong to pray for one's desires. When, first and foremost, the will of God is acknowledged, He is more delighted in hearing one's prayers (Psalms 37:4). In result, the relationship is strengthened. However my purpose, in this context, is to show reason in that God has no obligation to comply to prayer that defies His will. Quite often the things which one prays for are inherently imagined to be the best solutions, and even more often are they driven by personal desires; thus it is common in prayer that one expects God to lower Himself for such desires rather than uplifting oneself to God's desires. Similarly, St. Thomas Aquinas stated, "It is clear that he does not pray, who, far from uplifting himself to God, requires that God shall lower Himself to him, and who resorts to prayer not to stir the man in us to will what God wills, but only to persuade God to will what the man in us wills." When desiring the will of God before that of oneself, it is significant that one reminds himself, because through fear and doubt it is easy to forget, that the pieces of cause and effect can always be placed in order to comprehend God's countless and glorious responses to prayer. It is then made evident that He is indeed in great favor of the faithful man.

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