Saturday, August 29, 2009

Disbelieving God

Let's face it; most Christians nowadays don't really believe God. Part of the problem is that we are like little cotton balls who soak up the world's culture without quite knowing it. Through the internet, the TV, the newspapers, the medical system, we fill ourselves with worldly wisdom and what God calls "the knowledge of Egypt." The other thing is that we read our Bibles -- God's word-- in a second-hand manner. We look at it through our experience, through our denomination's view, through cultural misunderstanding.

Remember the story of Eve and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

First, Eve didn't have God's word right. We don't know if she had learned the truth from God or from Adam. Maybe she had added a bit of advisory that she and Adam made up then the next thing you know the advisory was AS IF God himself had said it. But the Bible pretty much says that God had said, "Don't eat of this tree." Eve seemed to have believed that they were not to either eat or touch this tree.

Some folks grow up with bad theology like that, like in a Christian cult or sect or even a mainstream denomination that adds some new bit of legalism or behavior to God's word. The snake-handling cults, for instance, say that you have to handle snakes. Some Christian denominations say women mustn't wear lipstick or pants. Or that people shouldn't eat meat. Well, folks leave these denominations they leave everything behind and toss the baby with the bathwater. Since they don't really know what God said -- from God's mouth-- they presume he said everything their church said...and when they choose to disobey "God" (or what they think he said) in the flakier aspect, then they disobey everything.

So Satan comes to Eve with "Has God said?" He wanted her to distrust God's word. That was the first temptation. So, first, Eve "touched the fruit." Nothing particularly wrong with that but she thought there was. And once free from that command (which she thought was from God) she could move on to other things.

No doubt -- no doubt at all-- that some of the great sects and I believe even Islam-- occurred as someone's reaction to some bad theology. (Yep, I don't believe God gave Mohammed the Koran. I believe Mohammed wrote a book in reaction to the flaky Manicheistic Catholicism around him. He started out as a Christian, remember.) So you have someone being brought with the first temptation: "Has God said?" Or -- another loose translation: "Is this book really the word of God? And if it is the word of God, has it been translated right?" Once a person falls into that temptation, they can write a Koran or a Book of Mormon and can say "We believe in God, we love God but your book is totally wrong."

I'm not hear to talk about those other books, though. Am talking about something more immediate. Because even folks who believe the Bible is God's unadulterated pure word will allow something else to affect their translation of it. Honestly, we Christians think some very unBiblical things. We think them because our minister or denomination thinks them. We think them because society thinks them. We think them because we personally don't want to really see what God is really saying. We think them because we're lazy or we're proud or we're uneducated. I won't go into how many ministers, lecturers, and Christian inspirational speakers I've heard who simply are deceived about what God means. And I'm not talking about those idiotic folks who believe the days of miracle are past. I'm not even talking about those who say stupid platitudes that they consider Biblical but which aren't.

The thing is at the very basic -- in even the smallest matter-- we must learn to read and see the events in the Bible for what they are, not what we think is there. Because when we are challenged on what isn't there (what God didn't say), we might then go overboard and drop everything...thinking we have been "enlightened" when all the while we have allowed Satan to drag us both from our confusion and from the truth.

Some small examples to start with: We aren't meant to hate Job's wife...unless it's okay to hate a depressed woman whose kids have died. We aren't meant to hate Ishmael and Hagar. Who the heck says that Delilah was a Phillistine? We aren't supposed to hate Vashti (and NO! Esther is not a romance about perfect love...unless you like stories about a trophy wife! Heck, nowhere does the Bible say Esther loves the king or even wants to be one of his hundred wives.) Folks, let us see what's there in the Bible...or else Satan will use what isn't there to cause us to doubt the Bible and to disbelieve God.
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