It All Comes Down to Love

Persuasion, conformity, obedience, discrimination, and other positive and negative social behaviors are all important topics to consider in regards to the Christian faith as we attempt to live like Christ in order to reach others with His truth. Each of these has a unique role in Christ-like behavior.

In order to bring people to Christ, there is a natural inclination to persuade people to believe. The movie God’s Not Dead shows this truth in a rather captivating way. A college student enters a class where the professor is forcing everyone to admit that “God is dead”. The student refuses and is then requested to provide a defense for God in the upcoming classes. The approach taken by the student revolves around scientific facts, like a presentation in a court case. However, there is a twist that occurs at the end of the discussion. All of his points become irrelevant to the ultimate decision everyone must make, which is actually just a decision. There will always be debate over whether God exists or not, so the only thing an individual can really do is decide which side to have faith in. This revelation destroys the initial need to persuade people to Christ. It all comes down to living a life that portrays Christ to others so they can have a desire for God, hopefully making that decision to believe.

Other interesting issues involving social behavior also penetrate the church. Conformity has an interesting role in churches. For many church-goers, their faith is based off of family or friend’s beliefs. They do not have a personal commitment to their faith and miss out on the most important parts of following God.

Like the negative impact conformity can have, discrimination is a huge problem for Christians. Christians are both discriminated against and are guilty of the act of discrimination. In some ways, that discrimination is partly backed by biblical principles, specifically an avoidance of homosexual acts and behaviors (1 Cor. 6:9-11). But at the same time, an overt and hurtful discrimination of homosexuals pushes away potential followers of Christ. There is a fine line between standing up for what you believe in and bringing everyone to God. Discriminating against different races and religions can be difficult for some Christians, but there always needs to be an extension of God’s love through us to all people (1 John 4:7, Mat. 22:39).

Obedience is something God requires of us. The psychologist’s definition of obedience is a simple one—a change in behavior in response to the commands of others. Stanley Milgram’s experiment testing obedience to authority demonstrates an interesting variable in this quality. In the experiment, the participants’ actions showed a certain willingness to follow authority to extreme measures, especially when it is known that any repercussions will not affect them. There is a certain trust in that relationship between the participant and experimenter. Similarly, the trust between us and God, knowing that we can live for Him in confidence, can influence our obedience to Him. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).  That creates a special bond between “those who are in Christ Jesus” and Christ Jesus himself. At the same time, we know that this trust cannot be replicated to anyone here on Earth. God is our ultimate authority and we have full trust in Him.

The love that God has for us is amazing. I trust God with my life because I made a decision to believe that He sent His Son to die a horrible death for me, only to be raised to life again three days later. By doing so, he saved me from my sins and conquered death. Romans 8, Ephesians 1:1-14, Ephesians 2, and Ephesians 3:1-13 all illustrate this through amazing words. Paul knew that God’s love for us is like nothing that can be produced here on this Earth, so our love for Him and our trust in Him should be like nothing else we have or could have.

The many negative and positive social behaviors we constantly exhibit are all important to consider while walking with God on our way to God. There is amazing power in what we do and how we do it. Making sure we live like Christ is important in everything that we do. At the very least, God deserves that. He deserves our life long dedication to glorifying and worshiping Him because He loves us so very much. Louie Giglio, the pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta said it best: “In the end, our worship is more about what we do than what we say.”

Cheese

I like making weird comparisons, so here is one involving cheese–a yummy, delicious, fantastic, amazing, scrumptious, beautiful, odd, weird, disgusting, crazy, wacko, perfect, awesome, totally rad piece of food which I have decided to relate to the Bible as a whole. BAM!

You know what I am talking about with that title up there… That yellowish, more often whitish, stinky, weird looking, cowified delicious stuff that always surprises my mouth with its goodness is everywhere. Something like that needs to be examined when it fills so many of our favorite dishes. From lasagna, to pizza, to cake (as in cheesecake), to burgers, to crackers (as in cheese and crackers), to the great spray cheese, cheese fills life. When I say “fills”, I mean both literally and figuratively…

Cheese fills my stomach and surrounds my everyday life. So what in the world is it?

No one knows…

But I believe cheese can be compared very easily to the Bible. It is kind of weird, often times white, sometimes weird looking, probably not cowified, but definitely (figuratively) delicious. It surprises me too. It surrounds my life spiritually as it pours out so many truths into my thoughts and beliefs. Something like that needs to be examined, just like cheese. The other thing, though, is that we can’t really tell what it is. Somehow, the Holy Spirit uses God’s word to guide us and help us through our lives. It is a magical, but rational, gift from God which has helped me get a glimpse of who He is.

I know, I am making a weird comparison here, but I like cheese and I like the Bible so I would like to make it okay to eat cheese, some how, from a biblical standpoint. The Bible carries so much weight to it in our lives and we need to take it seriously. Read it, feel it, smell it, (figuratively) eat it, touch it…

LIVE IT.

Micah 7:8:  Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.

CAUTION! Intelligence at Work! CAUTION!

Intelligence, thinking, and reasoning are all difficult and complex concepts that impact our lives every day. As humans, we are constantly gauging our abilities. Intelligence is the most measured ability of all in our Western culture. Intelligence, as defined by psychologists, is the capacity to understand the world, think rationally, and use resources effectively when faced with challenges. With different theories of intelligence available, each giving a specific definition of what intelligence can be, there is clearly a lot of ambiguity in this area of study.

Divergent thinking versus convergent thinking, practical intelligence and emotional intelligence, and fluid and crystallized intelligence are all examples of the many theories and types of intelligences. How do we sort through these many different types of intelligences? Personally, I prefer Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences which includes eight different forms of intelligence, each holding a distinct area of expertise. The eight categories which Gardner defined show the assortment of talents and intelligences that God has given us as individuals. Though I may not be an intelligent linguist, musically I hold much talent from God. This intelligence theory appeals to me because of the great ease with which it sorts out all kinds of intelligence.

Other theories limit the definition of intelligence and restrict what can or cannot be intelligent. The information-processing approach of intelligence degrades so many aspects of intelligence which can be exhibited by people, which results in the degrading of those people. Our education system currently is set up in a fashion which models this diminishing attitude toward multiple kinds of intelligence. Standardized tests are the means by which we assess a student’s intelligence. These tests often undermine the greatest abilities of the student. Creativity is discouraged through our education evaluation. Creativity, which can be associated with divergent thinking, is a vital part in our intelligence, yet it is not considered on any standardized intelligence test or encouraged and developed in our schooling. Our very nature craves success, which is reinforced by test scores, compliments, and accomplishments in our skills and talents. A degrading test score deflates the self-esteem of an individual. The importance of supporting all sorts of intelligence is certainly commanding.

Having established that importance, the evaluation of intelligence tests is noteworthy. These tests, which are designed to quantify a person’s level of intelligence, need to take into consideration what intelligence is and how it then can compare with other types of intelligence. Is the test reliable and valid? Approaching the results of current intelligence tests should be approached with caution because of the possible reactions one can have. Intellectual disabilities or giftedness, as well as diversity in culture and ethnicity, may be reason for test scores to be interpreted in such a way as to diminish the individual who was scored. The many different kinds of intelligence that can be exhibited may not be tested or emphasized, making a person or race look unintelligent. Employers, educators, policy makers, politicians, and other authoritative figures may create discriminatory attitudes towards these people. This result needs to be avoided at all cost.

In America, race is a large issue, which gives rise to the concern for evaluating intelligence between these different races and cultures. Environment, and thus culture, is more of a factor when it comes to intelligence than genetics, however, race is still a stumbling block when assessing intelligence. In my life, I am surrounded by mostly white folks, but I have lots of experience with African American people as well. I have a number of friends who are African American, and I serve at His Place, an urban outreach project of the Pittsburgh area Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. As I work with the children in His Place, who are mostly African American, and as I associate with my friends, I need to be conscious of my views of intelligence. Being wary of the different types of intelligence one can exhibit is vital to my encouragement of these people and love of them. Jesus talks of this in Luke 10:25-37 with the parable of the Good Samaritan. We should not be like the priest or Levite, but the Samaritan who had mercy on the broken man. The second greatest commandment is love your neighbor as yourself. Approaching intelligence with caution, mercy, and an open mind is key in loving others and promoting Christ.

The complexity and diversity intelligence carries with it makes it a difficult load to carry, but with the support of all kinds of intelligence so as to encourage and love others, we can make the load a lot easier.

Creativity

Creativity, or the ability to bring about an original thought, expression, idea, and the like, is a gift from God to his children. This creativeness was a result of the Creator creating man and woman in His image, almost a reflection of Himself. Humans are naturally creative, as Sir Ken Robinson explained at a TED talk filmed in February, 20061. Robinson supported his thesis that creativity is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status. He reasoned that we are born with creativity as a part of ourselves and then we beat it out of our kids in the education system. A very illustrative story from his speech introduced a girl who would not pay attention in school until one class they had a drawing lesson. Robinson continues, “The teacher was fascinated and she went over to her and said, “What are you drawing?” And the girl said, “I’m drawing a picture of God.” And the teacher said, “But nobody knows what God looks like.” And the girl said, “They will in a minute.” That creative imagination is ingrained into human beings’ heads. There are multiple creative aspects that reflect God wired in humans, including two specific examples—originality and intelligent design.

First, originality is commonly associated with creativity, but it was originally given to us from God when He used His creativity to create Adam and Eve. Humans and the world we live in, as well as the redemption story, are His great original work of art. When God created us, we were created in his image with creativity. That creativity allows each of us to formulate unique thoughts, art, projects, and ideas. Psalm 139:14a says, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” We each have good works that we are able to do because of our uniqueness as a result of God’s creativity. As humans, we have that ability to create original works of art. Just look at the many artists that are spread throughout time. From Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, to Claude Monet with his impressionist Water Lilies, to the pop art of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, the originality of artists is revealed through their works. Though, originality is not restricted to just art. Frank Lloyd Wright was a fantastic architect who created the intriguing home famously named Falling Water, which is located on top of a water fall. Even those who own businesses, lay out neighborhoods and cities, or design cars must have some level of creative originality in order to separate themselves from others who have similar skills. Originality was used when we were created, and we inherited that gift and should use it to serve the one who gave it to us. John Stuart Mill, a British philosopher from the 1800s, once said, “All good things which exist are the fruits of originality.”2

Secondly, intelligent design is a unique aspect that humans have that was inherited from God. We are constantly looking to the future and visualizing our lives as we want them, then making adjustments accordingly. As a high school student, I am creating what my future will look like with the choices I make. Such as my choice of college, major, friends, classes, even food sometimes. I have a design for my future that I am creating as the days pass by, and that design reveals me as a person. God had a plan when he created us. This plan would reveal God to us. A plan to show His love, compassion, and mercy, and He chose us to be a part of that plan. Jeremiah 29:11 illustrates this when God says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” We make plans for our lives all the time, but ultimately, God’s will shall prevail. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes His steps.” As a result we should, as Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” As we arrange our lives, we must realize we are working for our Creator, not ourselves. Intelligent design must be used in order to figure out what God’s will is for us and then act on that so that we may please Him.

In conclusion, we have many attributes of God involving creativity, including originality and intelligent design. We must use these attributes to serve our Creator according to His will. Personally, as I go further into deciding and arranging what I want to do with my life, I must find the originality that I carry and use it through my work for the Lord.

 

 

  1. “Transcript of “How Schools Kill Creativity”” Ken Robinson: How Schools Kill Creativity. TED Talks, Feb. 2006. Web. 29 Aug. 2014. <http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity/transcript?language=en#t-221000&gt;.

 

  1. John Stuart Mill. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from BrainyQuote.com Web site: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/john_stuart_mill.html
    Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/citation/quotes/authors/j/john_stuart_mill.html#HxEdYbvH1fjfvDrr.99
Video

No Man Is An Island

Tenth Avenue North has released a new EP called Islands which includes the song “No Man Is An Island”. Mike Donehey, the lead singer for Tenth Avenue North, released a devotion in the form of a video journal that relates to this song. These two releases from Tenth Ave are both related to the post “Uncovering Loneliness” that I wrote a few weeks ago. Take a look, it’s pretty amazing:

Fly Fly Away My Beauty

Have you ever experienced the annoying sensation of knowing a fly is buzzing around you or your food? When you are aware of a fly buzzing around you or the objects that you originally thought you were going to throw into your stomach, a terrible hatred is brought up within us. If you have not experienced this hatred then you must be extremely lucky, or you live in Antarctica. Either way, the fly, whether it be a regular house fly, a deer fly, a fruit fly, a horse fly, or any other kind of fly, they all tend to be mindbogglingly annoying. Why is this? Well the simple and obvious answer is that they buzz around us and are rather disgusting when analyzed. They never seem to leave.

This weekend I realized something. I went camping this weekend and of course we had food. This food was mighty delicious, as was evident by the flies gathering around it and the plates that were sitting around this food. I immediately felt a hatred towards these flies. How could they go around thinking they had the authority to steal and dirty our food? These worthless little annoyances needed to just scram so we could enjoy our fire and canned apple pie filling in peace. In this moment of hatred is when I had my moment of realization: What if that hatred towards the flies is a sin? I was hating God’s creation! God did create those flies and he said that his creation was good every time he created something (Book of Genesis). I was condemning God’s creation to death. How cruel is that? Yes they were bothering us, but what if that is Satan? What if the devil is using God’s creation to fuel our sinful nature by presenting it in an annoying way? Romans 1:20 says some pretty crazy stuff when Paul says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

As I thought about this, I sat and observed these flies sitting on our paper plates. They were so cool. They were so disgusting but in a cool way. God was there showing himself through those tiny little beings! Magnificent! All I had to do was slow down and just see the flies as what they were–God’s creation. But, please take a moment and slow down right now as you read this. If I saw God through some little annoying flies that could possibly be used by Satan, what could God do with us? We have the opportunity to accept and share Jesus’ sacrifice and the gift of the Holy Spirit that comes with it. That is powerful.

Now I am not saying that these thoughts are all completely true and we should stop hating flies. No, I am just making a point to focus your attention on where God is. He is everywhere! He is in those little flies, the wheat in the fields, the flowers in your garden, the water flowing from your sink, and the brain in your head. God can reveal himself to you through so many things. We just need to look for Him. Also, Satan can use many different things to bring us away from God and we need to be careful of these things.

So next time you see a fly, or something else that may annoy you often, try to look for a glimpse of God in that subject and realize how much God can do with our lives if we surrender them to Him.

L I F E . . . life…

Life is very complicated, yet sometimes seems pointless. I don’t know why you live life, but I have some reasons why I think it might be important for us to live long and prosper. 

My reasons for living life:
1) Praising God through a Christ-like life
2) Bringing others to make the choice of accepting Jesus so they can live for eternity with Him
3) Loving as many people as I can
4) Enjoying the beautiful Creation that God has made for us and Him
5) Eating and drinking as much ice cream and milk as I can
6) Enjoying this life that God created
7) Keeping this body nice while God lives in it, while eating ice cream and drinking milk

Those 7 reasons are very important to me and I hope that you look into them as you create some reasons for living. I hope that maybe I will think of some more reasons as life goes on, because life is beautiful. Scripture says that life is going to be tough and we are going to struggle, but isn’t life beautiful?! We get to live in a place full of nature and beauty that God has placed onto this earth. But the struggles we go through are also a beautiful part of life because we get to live through them and see the product of grace and truth on the other side.

I hope that this is an encouragement to you. Just remember:

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 

Ephesians 3:12