Friday, February 25, 2011

Personal God or Cultural God?

Should you not be aware of the things you etch into your faith - for instance, whether or not you speak of a timeless, personal relationship with God before placing a cultural restriction on God?

It is evident that there are boundaries placed on the very God that one loves so much, such as the underestimating emphasis on a tiny corner of the glory of God - a temporary pursuit of happiness that essentially blesses monetarily and materialistically in return for faithfulness and good will. Much of the same doctrine can be found in the self-improvement books located down the aisle from the theology books. However not all individuals treasure and define prosperity by mere domestic comfort and pleasure; not all individuals find reward in forms of entertainment; not all individuals are able to practice their true abilities through cultural definitions of happiness; finally, not all individuals place such value on economic ladders. Now, there is virtually nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves. These days when Christians bicker they exaggerate passion into a legalistic belief and prosperity into a lukewarm belief. But what is God's definition of a blessing to each individual, since after all, it is a personal relationship rather than a cultural relationship?

It is inevitable that there will always be trends. Although, what is most prominent in modern Western Christianity? Better yet, what is success in the eyes of God as opposed to the eyes of man? As of late there has been a deadlock inclination that the work of an individual is fruitless if that work does not produce some sort of monetary profit. Essentially, money is merely a tool, not a goal, especially for one who projects everything, from faith to peace to success, into the hands of God. The more emphasis the desiring hearts of men put on a single tool to succeed, the fewer options he leaves for himself to succeed. Most men think that building a profit or climbing the social ladder is God's primary means of sending a blessing. I find that this is a hindrance to the true potential that God has for man. He is a worker of miracles, a creator, one who has granted great authority to those who are faithful. The man who continuously seeks God delights in creativity, he delights in discovering and witnessing his own strength, without submission to the gods of his time, under the hands of God who is beyond time.

As previously mentioned, the inclination is driven under the assumption that God's sole purpose is to provide little luxuries, which lead only to a rather fickle happiness, for every man that truly confides in his will. On the contrary, there are individuals with a more prophetic perspective; they do not walk in the here-and-now but by legacies for the coming generations. On earth, they might never witness their own successes or prosperities, yet reserved for them are blessings greater than those that which the world itself has to offer. God favors men and women who delight in being made worthy of happiness before the happiness itself. These people ask themselves, "If I were to die this instant, what message, eternally valuable, did I leave behind? How could one find me?"
They know that pride and power fall when the person falls, but discoveries of truth form legacies that can be built upon for generations.

First and foremost, the greater good in many cases is to speak of what is sure and profitable in the eyes of eternity, and this is done by clinging onto the example of Christ. He is the only teacher to ever set an irrefutable, timeless example for all cultures and all men. Some men delight in stepping outside of the cultural circle in an attempt to speak for all people. Indeed that is considered overdoing it, however, amplification signifies leadership:

"In winter Diogenes walked barefoot in the snow. In summer he rolled in the hot sand. He did this to harden himself against discomfort. 'But aren't you overdoing it a little?' a disciple asked. 'Of course,' replied Diogenes, 'I am like a teacher of choruses who has to sing louder than the rest in order they may get the right note.'"

How many have a passionate desire, though we will fail again and again, to lead a life following the absolute purity and certainty of the example of Christ? On the other hand, how many have become nothing more than inspirational speakers who focus only on certain highlights meant to emotionally inspire those within one's own culture and time period? Simply put, there were times in history and places on earth where people died or suffered for Christ just as there were times and places where people lived and prospered for Christ. They are both worthy simply because they are both for Christ.

It is quite superficial and safe when a televangelist implies that one must be happy or that he must prosper, by cultural definition, in order to be right with God. I have no problem with God if some of us were meant to suffer on earth in order to bring something worthwhile, something eternal out of us. I for one do not give much when everything is flawlessly moving to my advantage; I am too busy dancing in my selfish, self-righteous pool of ignorance. Sometimes it takes a lowly, title-less man to humble the world. Kings, rulers, CEOs, judges, doctors, pastors, they are already expected to be greater and wiser.

To be sincere, or maybe just believable, about helping others through adversity, one has to have experienced it himself first. This is my strangest prayer, and in this I can never regret a thing. It is a kind of self-sacrificial love, one of life's greatest components. I do not care about happiness simply because I believe that joy is something worth fighting for. Joy lies in one's desire to bear the burdens of others today and tomorrow (Galatians 6:2). It is not a tragedy; the most innocent man in history, Jesus Christ, suffered for the most beautiful event in history. The work of the divine, the act of love is to walk among those less fortunate than oneself. Good works is giving to the poor and the helpless, but divine works is showing them their worth to the One who matters. That is the definition of ultimate prosperity, and anything else, although not necessarily wrong, is indeed settling for less.

Ultimate prosperity is one's value within. It takes a man of depth, morality, and charm to be envied yet without a sign of wealth or romance. A passion to prove such inner worth is his permission to achieve whatever he desires. With a hint of good judgment, to fear nothing, not failure or suffering or even death, indicates that you value life the most. You live to the extreme; you push limits; you spend your time building legacies. Those do not die.
The walk of Christ in every sense of the phrase - this is the only constant joy, one that timelessly prevails throughout any and every culture. It is simple, as Kierkegaard said, "The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly."

1 comment:

  1. I read this and I say to myself "there is no way that this was written by a 24 year old". Then I am immediately reminded that God can use anyone, regardless of age, that is willing and obedient to allow His Spurit work through them.

    And that is the key. That you have allowed His Spirit to work through "you"!

    You have not commonized the message, or forced a square message into a round box. The message is from Him, but the expression is "you".

    The Lord's name be praised!

    The message is all truth! I am totally inspired and encouraged once again to submit "myself" to His service. All that I am, exactly as I am.

    Is He not, after all, the One who created me? Who fashioned me in my mothers womb?