Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The truth will set you free

In recent conversation with a young man (same age as me) from the Baha'i "faith" and now in seeing Oprah's most recent "spiritual" endeavor, I need to air some thoughts because otherwise I will most certainly go insane.
Before any of this (for lack of a better term) 'new age' philosophy really started rolling through my mind I began to take part in "The Truth Project" with a small group from another church in town (for the purpose of checking it out to potentially use it in our church's small group ministry).
Normally I am slightly on guard when it comes to a mass production from Focus on the Family because of the tremendously conservative swing that they normally put on topics, which I don't necessarily agree with 100% with regards to culture and that sort of thing. But this Truth Project curriculum has really been catching my eye. Ultimately I respect organizations like Focus on the Family for their pursuit of holiness and their approach to family life in this messed up world. The Truth Project takes a look at the foundational truth of Scripture and essentially puts it under a microscope to test it against other philosophies and theologies that are out there. In the end it always comes down to Scripture being true, God being God, and all the other truths of Scripture.
So with all of this in the background of my mind recently, I received an e-mail after preaching a sermon on the beginning of relationships (Genesis 1-3) from a 25 year old guy who was in the service that morning, who is of the Baha'i tradition. It took a couple weeks for us to finally meet up, but we eventually did get the chance to sit down in a coffee shop and chat about religion. Essentially, it seems that he is some sort of Baha'i evangelist or something, not trying to "convince" me of anything, but rather trying to "reveal" the "real truth" to me.
If you don't know anything about the Baha'i faith, google it and read up on it, it's slightly interesting but incredibly inconsistent in fundamental beliefs, from what I have gathered (I'm certainly not an expert). This study has had me thinking on the cultural beliefs of this country/continent and of course then Oprah chimes in on the matter.
I received another e-mail of a youtube video of some weird thing that Oprah's book club has recently delved into. An online seminar or something like that from some dude's book about discovering how you're god or some crap like that.
This is not even close to being a new teaching, it's been heard over and over again for centuries. But what is it that draws 2 million people (likely only a small percentage in actually) towards viewing this kind of online seminar of becoming awakened or enlightened?
Why is it so easy to buy into something that leads one to the "all-knowing" power of self and so easy to reject beliefs that when actually understood (by a well known 'person' know as the Holy Spirit) not only make sense but provide answers to the seemingly unanswerable questions?
I suppose I'm coming at this from a biased perspective, it's admittedly difficult for me to come at this from any other perspective because I simply don't hold to them, and it simply doesn't make any sense to me.
Regardless of my perspective, what is it that draws a person to this belief that the ultimate realization that a person can reach is to discover the power of YOU.
Here's what I think, and it's almost anti-climactic if you ask me, but we like ourselves! I know you must be thinking "That was a real stroke of genius there chief." But ultimately I think that's why it's so easy for someone to buy into it, especially in a culture so saturated with greed. "If it means good for me, then I'm cool with that" is sort of the idea that surrounds us.

I can understand why something like that is attractive, it elevates the person to a level of divinity that nobody besides Jesus can ever meet. It's this ancient beast that rages within people to try to replace God with themselves. Ancient because it can be found in the very first moment of sin on this planet, no matter what your view of the Genesis creation account may be, the simple fact of sin is undeniable and the essence of sin is to push God aside and to put self in that place. Beast because it's a nasty side of fallen humanity that will go to the greatest lengths to see itself thrive, even to the point of removing God from the personal equation.

My problem with this whole philosophy of people being "god," is not only that people are desperately attempting to remove God, because that is most certainly the downfall of humanity, but that they are doing so with a ridiculous philosophy that doesn't do what they are hoping it will. It's a feel good thing....if I can try to legitimize my existence with anything, then I will feel good about myself, and that's what I need, to feel good.
Here's where I think this whole idea falls apart, no matter how you look at it, the attempt is deify humanity, but the result is a deplorable existence that accounts for no real answers to anything else in the world.
If humans are in fact "God", and God is merely a concept that has been created by humanity, then what of the problems all around the world? If humanity was some sort of greater power, why is the earth being rapidly destroyed by the plight of people?
If God is not actually a higher power, then there's not any greater cause to existence than merely existing, in fact you are limiting God by claiming divinity in humanity.
That's not a creative order that works very well at all.
Now, I have to admit, I don't know the whole story of the book in question, but it's not new philosophy, it's just reworded. And perhaps there's something in there that I'm missing on a deep level, but I doubt it.
People have so demoralized themselves that they don't see how destructive they are, it bothers me. It also causes me much heartache that others have no less than blamed the notion of "God" for all the problems in the world, shifting the blame from fallen humanity to the Creator of all things....wow. Then to think on how many levels this happens in minute details of life, even for those who are Christians, being changed by the grace of God, that's what bothers me.

Then the question arises in my mind....who's out there to fight such "hollow and deceptive philosophy?" I think there are pastors and scholars who exist that will do so, which is great. What about 20 years from now when the same things arise again? Who will be around to combat such beliefs? I don't fear the downfall of Christianity because it's not going to happen, but I do fear the deception of many millions of minds because someone simply appeals to their desire for significance and leads them away from Truth.
Ultimately God doesn't need us, me, whatever. But He does use us, me, etc. He does choose to make the truth known through his people, so who will it be? Will it be me? My friends and colleagues now? Those who are younger than me?
You can very easily see from recent North American history that religion is being removed from society, but also that society as people are trying to make it, has a very dismal outlook and ideas that promote the deification of humanity simply contribute to this downward spiral.

So what do we need? Well, essentially we need relief, we need to see the return of Christ, but that's his timing and we have no control over that. Ultimately there's not much we do have control of. But I think we need people to take responsibility for their generations. I think people who are of my age/generation need to wake up and perhaps realize that there's an urgency in forever, it doesn't give us license to relax, it gives us responsibility to act.

perhaps this is all old news, stuff that people hear over and over again and I'm just way behind. Perhaps my own view of the situation is far from what really is the case, I don't know, I actually kinda hope that's the case, cause then many more people will realize that they need to step up.

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