Traveling

After graduation at Northland International University, I have been traveling with my parents and sister to her home in South Dakota. While here, I have opportunity to take in the local sights.

This morning, My parents and I visited Mount Rushmore. While not my first time to visit, it was the first time that I had clear view of the enormous sculptures. On my previous visits, it was dark, cloudy, and miserable as my family tried to distinguish the faces of the four presidents.

However, today was an amazingly beautiful day! We were finally able to see the mountain in the splendor of the morning sun.

Among many of the amazing facts about the mountain is that the sculptor Gutzon Borglum chose the exact spot that the monument rests to catch the morning light.  The incredible planing and the multitude of scale models and prototypes is staggering, but through all of the trial and error Borglum created on of the most recognizable landmarks of American history.

While the human race indeed can create works of art that are stunning in complexity or sheer size, God’s created works far surpassing the finite works of human beings.

From Genesis 1 and the creation account, the vast heavens, the masses of land, animals, plants, and everything else is declared to be the direct creation of God. Not only did he create it, but the quality of all of it was “very good.”

Not the least of God’s creation is human kind. In Psalm 139:14, the writer, David, states that he (any by extension every other human being) is fearfully and wonderfully made. In the providence of God, the human being is treasured by God and is special to Him. Perhaps because humans are created in the image of God, He takes delight in these creatures. It is  God’s delight in His creation (though defiled) that we should look back to our creator. And just like a mountain carved to reflect the images of great men of history, we should reflect back the image of the great God who created us.

Theology Matters

What we believe about God dramatically shapes the way that we live. All of us are theologians because we all have thoughts about God. These thoughts shape our lives and mold us into the people we are. The atheist rejects the evidence of a creator God and he or she becomes the ultimate arbitrator of truth and morality. The pantheist sees god  in every object. The polytheist believe that the gods fight petty wars among themselves just as humans do. Each of them however forms the thoughts and actions of the people who hold them.

The Theist alone looks to God’s own revelation of Himself for his or her theology. They contend hard with the words of scripture which claim to be spoken directly by Him.

Theology is not difficult because we don’t have God’s words: we have them collected and preserved in the Bible. Theology is difficult because we are fallen and finite beings. Sin distorts our view of God reflected in scripture and we naturally “suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18) about God.

Our theology must be guided by scripture. This is true, but we must also recognize that our nature makes looking at the scripture correctly difficult. For this we must have the one who wrote the scripture enlighten us to understand what He revealed. This is percisely what Paul prays for in Ephesians 1.

16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come

Ephesians 4:32

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

While many pastors focus on the imperative to “be kind” and its attendant “forgiveness”, often overlooked is that the ultimate motivation for us to forgive other fallible human beings lies in the forgiveness that we ourselves received from God.

Forgiveness is not not found necessarily in words, but is demonstrated. Love for fallen human beings motivated God to forgive us through the work of Christ (Ephesians 4:4-6).  While much can be said about God’s forgiveness, our forgiveness of one another for things mundane or critical should be motivated by that same thing which motivated God: Love!

The apostle Paul used a term that is often translated “tenderhearted” to describe the compassion of a person as he or she looks at the plight of another. That strong, intense focus on the one who wronged us should move our focus to how we have wronged God and yet he still forgave us.

Forgiving others is not our first thought when we are wronged. It is not natural for us to forgive. In fact, it is impossible to forgive another human being in the same way that God forgave us unless we forgive in Christ. It is Christ’s redemption work that provides the foundation for us to forgive one another.

Therefore, since God forgave us much we are able to forgive others much for their inconsistencies, failed promises, and pain they caused us (and hopefully others will forgive us for our own failures as well.)