Freedom

There are a lot of things that I have been learning with all this talk about living at peace with all men, and unity, and worship and all that. The more that I get to know Jesus, the more that I love him, the more that I walk with him, the more that I trust him, the more freedom I have. The Bible says that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. I’ve been reading Rob Bell’s book “Sex God” and there are some awesome things in the book, quotes such as this one: “often freedom is seen as the ability to do whatever you want. But freedom isn’t being able to have whatever we crave. Freedom is going without whatever we crave and being fine with it.” (Bell, 2012, p. 66)

The more that I choose to live at peace, the more that I choose unity with my brothers and sisters in Christ, the more freedom I have, not to live in a way that indulges my own selfish desires, but the freedom to truly live. When I choose conflict over peace, division above unity, complaining instead of gratitude, to live how I want to live instead of worship, when I chose any of those, I am a slave to my own desires. A slave is not free.

It’s in becoming more Christlike that we become freer. The more I struggle and the more I battle against my own desires and win, the freer I become, because when I live the way Jesus asked me to live, I am truly free, free to live a better life than I could create on my own.

The quote from Rob Bell also has me thinking about addiction and my own battle with addiction. Giving in and indulging in addictive behavior is not freedom, it’s living chained by my own desires. I have learned that unforgiveness imprisons me while those I will not forgive go free right before my eyes. It’s like looking out through a cage and hating the fact that I am in prison and they are walking free. Ultimate freedom comes from transformation, and that transformation is something that God orchestrates.

Living differently, living above the desires and fancies of the world, that’s what true freedom is about. 
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Evolution

I grew up watching videos of Ken Ham and reading Creation magazine. I was one of the kids who would ask my teachers “were you there” just like Ken Ham told us to when they would teach the theory of evolution. I was taught that a literal six 24 hour day creation period was imperative to the gospel, because if we couldn’t trust God when he told us the creation story, then we couldn’t trust him when he talked about Jesus and redemption, either. I also know that a lot of people believe that young people lose their faith in college, but I have to say that for me, college has strengthened my faith and I attend a secular school. This whole thing with six literal 24 hour days of creation being necessary to the truthfulness of the Bible is simplistic.

Not everything in the Bible is supposed to be taken literally, and I don’t personally know any Christian who takes every single word of the Bible literally, usually what happens is we pick and choose based on many different criteria. The Bible is a collection of books about God, books that were written in different styles, by different people, in different periods of history. Some of the Bible is poetry and song, some is a documentary on the life of Christ, and some tells us of ancient Israel and their relationship with God. The Bible is an interesting book made of 66 smaller books.  

When I studied some basic psychology, I began to realize that the theory of evolution was more compatible scientifically than the theory that it took six literal 24 hour days for God to create the world. I’m not saying that God didn’t do creation in that way; I’m just saying that I think another theory makes more sense, the theory that God used evolution as part of his creative process. I believe that perhaps instead of a big bang, God spoke things into existence that eventually evolved into other things. The truth is I’m really not sure exactly how God made it, but I know that he made it and that it was good. I know that I was very much created by a loving God.

Lately evolution has started to make a lot more sense to me as I realize that our lives are constantly evolving, changing us into someone else. A baby starts out as some cells, and evolves into a tiny human who even after birth grows and changes more. To me evolution is about growth and change, something that is an important concept in Christianity. As I think about the possibility that God may have used evolution as part of his creative process, the more sense it makes to me. Evolution is a part of life, and God is all about life.

I don’t claim to have it all figured out, these are just some thoughts that I have on the subject. However it all happened, God is the one that orchestrated it, it’s his creation, his doing, his artwork, and He’s a wonderful God. 

Unity and Worship

I don’t want to write this, I’ve tried to avoid writing this and coming up with a post on any other topic except for this, but that is not working for me. Over the past thirteen weeks, I have worked on an in-depth research paper for my undergraduate degree about worship and communication technologies. In the process, I learned a lot about worship and I’d like to think that I perhaps now know a little more than the average person does about the subject. Also during this time my church was undertaking a creative project, an act of worship, in the form of a complete new stage design. I say all this to say that both these projects taught me a lot about worship. Helping in the small way that I did with the project at the church, I learned about how important unity is.

It’s the subject of unity that I want to talk about, something that is discouraged in fundamentalism unless the person or organization believes exactly the same way you do on every single point of doctrine. It’s taken me a long time to realize that I should be making peace rather than strife, that it doesn’t matter if people believe differently than I do on any subject, that I should be pursuing peace with everyone. During both these projects relating to worship, God brought some things to my attention.

One thing that I really have trouble with is forgiveness. I want grace for myself but am often hesitant to give it. I want people to judge my motives as good when I do not judge other people’s motives as good. So I was mad at a few of the precious people that I go to church with. For me, God used something that Jesus himself preached in the Sermon on the Mount. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave you gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift”. Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV).

Most Sundays you will find me working at the church doing visual media for worship, and I really was convicted about using my talents in media and offering them to God for an offering of worship, when I was holding onto hurt feelings and grudges towards my own brothers and sisters in Christ. I knew that God wanted me to be reconciled before I continued to worship him in this way.

Over the past two weeks I began going to people that I had harbored hard feelings against, for whatever reason, and told them I was wrong and asked them to forgive me. On Sunday, during the service, I left from my seat in front of the video mixer for a few minutes while I quietly spoke to my pastor, telling him what I had learned, and asking him as the pastor of the church to forgive me for using my talents in worship while not being reconciled, and for affecting the unity of the church, because even if most people were oblivious, this stuff does affect the unity of the church. I said much the same thing to the worship pastor. For me I felt like this was a necessary step in the process, and while I felt like an idiot, I also felt like a weight had been lifted from me.

So with both the worship projects, God really taught me a lot about unity and living at peace, and it’s something I’m still working through because I know where this is ultimately going. God wants me to totally forgive everyone who has ever hurt me, even those that did the unspeakable. I’m learning as I go along that bitterness and unforgiveness hurts me more than it hurts anyone else, in fact this is a huge lesson that I am taking away from this whole series of events. I’m trying to clean up and take out my trash, as it were, as we approach lent so that I can go into lent focusing on Jesus and I’m sure he’ll have a lot for me to learn during lent.

If we have something against a brother or sister in Christ, it will affect the unity of the church whether we think so or not. It hurts the entire church if two people are mad at each other, and it should not be like this among the church. Part of my responsibility in corporate worship is to be reconciled with everyone I am worshipping with, because if not, it will affect the corporate worship.