Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Heaven’s Gate


"You do not have to believe in a god or life after death to believe that there is something greater than yourself. You only have to look up at sunset and realise that you are stood on a rock that has all that you need to live, circulating around another rock that keeps you warm. Its then you realise that you are in fact stood on heavens gate." -- Mike Shaw.

The image and the quote are both by Mike Shaw.  Great image, but the thought behind it made me think of how different perspectives will always lead to different conclusions.  And it could be that those two perspectives seem alike, but they may be farther apart than the viewpoints that are openly different.

Let’s take a look at the difference between Mike’s way of looking at things, compared to mine.  Mike looks at that sunset, recognizes its power and beauty, but comes to the conclusion that there’s something greater than us but no need for God.  On the other hand, I have some other things that I consider. 

If something more powerful than us could make all of this possible, isn’t more possible?  Mike talks about the two “rocks”, but science says the positioning of earth to the sun, earth’s atmosphere, and water content all contribute to the potential for life.  Any closer to the sun and it’d be southern fried Bill.  Any farther away and I’d be a frozen popsicle for some other odd being.  Or, more likely, just a frozen popsicle, with no one or nothing there to appreciate how tasty I might be.  Or not.  That and other scientific findings point in the direction that all of this is not by chance. 

Scientists have spent a fortune on a massive “atom smasher” to find the Higgs boson, nicknamed the “God particle”.  The particle supposedly gives mass to things that wouldn’t otherwise have mass, thus controlling the behavior of the universe.  And that’s supposed to explain everything.  But, if they do find it, what controls the Higgs boson?  From my perspective, intelligent design is a much better explanation of the universe than that it randomly came together and randomly does things in certain ways.

Some would say that Mike’s view comes from running from God.  But there are other possibilities.  I can recall a period in my life when I was what might be called a practicing skeptic.  Nothing beyond what I could experience and explain was taken as gospel (intentional small “g”).  Like any good believer, I surrounded myself with fellow skeptics to bolster my own view and practiced my skepticism like it was a religion.  And that way of doing things ignored the fact that, no matter how intellectual I was, no matter how insightful I might be, my ability to know and understand things would never be anything more than limited.

It also seems like the Old Sin Nature that’s discussed so often in the Bible does something more than drag us into bad behavior.  It seems to give our memory a flaw that makes it retain wrong information if that’s what we’ve been taught.  And retain it better than good information.  If you recall Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees, it was mostly the ones who had been trained a long time and were invested in the idea they “knew” what was required by God that remained combative.  If you read the passages thoroughly, it appears that the younger, less trained Pharisees weren’t necessarily sold on the idea that Jesus wasn’t who He said He was.  I suspect some were converted, while others were afraid to go against the crowd.  And some of the more mature Pharisees, like Nicodemus, were truly seeking God and open to at least see what Jesus was about.

When I share what I believe, whether it’s with Mike Shaw or with someone else, I have to be sensitive to what will best show the other party that what I’m sharing is personal for them and that God wants to be personal with them.  Which may be telling a Nicodemus to get supper ready.  Or it may be knocking Paul off his horse and blinding him.  Or it may be gently taking Thomas’s hand and having him touch Christ’s wound so that recognizing that by “sight” would help his faith to grow in other areas.  I can share a couple of personal examples.

There was a season in my life when I worked in broadcasting.  At one of the stations, we had two way radios for our newsmen to communicate back with the station.  There was a tech who came to the station periodically to maintain the two way radio system.  He was blatantly Christian.  And I became his target for salvation.  His sole approach was putting a series of Chick tracts in front of my face, each visit.  Two things became clear from his assault on my soul.  First, I wasn’t a soul to him, I was another salvation notch on his belt.  Second, if I didn’t say the “sinners prayer”, he wasn’t giving up.  Despite the fact that nothing in the Bible says anything about such a prayer.  So, I said the prayer without meaning it.  Because it would get him off my back.  As best as I can recall, there was no discipleship after that.  If I had meant it when I said the “sinners prayer”, he just left me so Satan could take potshots at my newly professed Christianity.  There was nothing personal, despite the fact that he came back multiple times to service the two way radio system.  Compare that to another experience.

Years later, I was working for another station in a very large metropolitan area.  As a result, I got to MC a number of jazz concerts and interview some of the musicians on the air.  One of those interviews was with a jazz pianist named Hank Jones.  A great musician and a very Godly man.  He was in the studio and I was going to get to air his new album for the first time, interviewing him between tracks.  Hank apparently noticed that, as usual, my life was in turmoil and suggested he’d like to share with me how much Jesus loved me.  Remembering the previous experience, I bluntly said I didn’t want to hear anything about Jesus.  So, while the music was playing, Hank shared with me how much God loves me.  He was kind, gentle and personal about it.  Even though I didn’t budge, there were a lot of spiritual seeds planted that evening.  Later, when I was seeking God, a CD arrived of Hank and Charlie Haden playing Gospel songs, just piano and bass.  Much later, when I had committed to God, two of Hank’s latest albums came in the mail that included tracks with titles like “How Good It Is to be a Christian”.  In both cases, those came to a home address that wasn’t on any of my employment records when I left the station where Hank and I met.

Is the placement of the planet earth coincidence?  Was the timing of my receiving the CD and albums a coincidence?  Was the delivery of that specific music to an address that wasn’t easily findable a coincidence?  I don’t think so.  John 3:16 says “for God so loved the world….”.  All of it.  But, if you read the Gospels, Jesus was very personal in His interactions with people.  And there really are no coincidences.  I think there are a lot of miracles that we miss recognizing because we’re so familiar with them.  And that’s a shame.  Because we miss out on the wonder of God’s creation.  And we miss out on seeing how much God truly does love us.

So.  What are you doing today to recognize the miracles in your life?

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