To infinity and beyond: a short thought

My Masters dissertation is on the word ‘to’! Well, actually, it’s on the ‘to-infinitive’ construction. On reading about infinitives and the (grammatical) concept of finiteness, I have had to consider what finiteness and non-finiteness means. In grammatical terms finiteness is quantifiable in terms of inflection on the verb (markers of person, number and tense) while non-finites have no (or very little) quantifiable matter.

So when I read of the ‘infinite’ love of God, I do a rethink: is it unquantifiable? Or does it mean something else?

the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced.

(Eph. 3:18-19 TV)

Glory belongs to God, whose power is at work in us. By this power he can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.

(3:20 NAS)

SO does it mean unquantifiable in this context? Maybe; rather than literally ‘limitless’ as many perceive infinity to be, it means ‘having no end’ or literally ‘not (in-) finished (-finite)’

Praise God that unlike the work of grace on the cross, which is finished (John 19:30), his love is not finished.

Grace be with you.

Another joke!

A man was discovered on a desert island after many years. His rescuer saw that he had built three wooden huts, so asked him what they were for and he replied “That one is my home and shelter, and that one beside it is the little church I built for myself.”

“Oh, that’s nice,” said the rescuer, “but what’s that third one then?”

“Oh, THAT!? That’s the church I used to go to!”

Unholy Wisdom

When the Devil came to tempt Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), he presented ideas to Jesus that sounded great, very tempting, certainly wise and of benefit to Jesus himself. He even used scripture in his arguments with our Lord. However, Jesus clearly countered him with the same weapon each time: his own knowledge of the scriptures.

My first post on this blog was about such a situation, and the prompting of the very reasoning for the blog theme. Something that sounded right, but did NOT square with the word of God. I have come across such ‘unholy wisdom’ countless times. A couple of examples:

Wisdom?: “When you take something to God in prayer, you don’t need to keep repeating it: has he not already heard you? If you pray the same thing again, you’re showing that you don’t believe that he HAS!”

Answer: We are exhorted to pray; it is how we ask God to intervene in a world largely left in our own hands. Jesus prayed for hours in Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-41), and:

“Pray continually.” (1 Thess. 5:17)

“They all joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts.1:14)

“…and will give our attention to prayer…” (Acts. 6:4)

Wisdom?: “I don’t need to attend church to be a Christian.”

Answer: Sure! Salvation is dependent on his grace, not our works or our holy observances, but…

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Easy to do once you have the word in your head and heart.

Grace be with you.

Drugs and the ‘free market’ experiment

A video link to watch:

wire-david-simon-war-drugs-video-interview

David Simon is the creator of the TV series ‘The Wire’ – a show I dismissed due to the plethora of swear words in the first minutes (should have given it more attention) – here he is discussing the Reaganite/Thatcherite ‘experiment’ of the past generation in light of his experience of the drug culture he examined for his work:

What an excellent interview! What a great man! One of the newly-made millionaires who refuses to chuck his principles in the bin and just ‘join the elite’ – I agreed with every word he said. Simon is eloquent and agreeable since he’s NOT coming from the POV of a raving lefty loony (like me LOL). Thank you to benstupples.com for this link.

Grace be with you.

We are all humanists

This blog was started a while ago. It’s slightly coincidental that it is published on Father’s Day:

My dad was never sure of what he believed in, or didn’t believe in. When at 14, I became a Christian, his response was “I went through a religious phase when I was your age too.” Time showed him that my experience was neither a phase nor religious: I hope he saw that it was simply real faith.

Though I learnt a lot from him. Once when he tried to explain his beliefs, he said “I think I’d say I’m a humanist.” His young son, of course, asked “what’s a humanist, Daddy?” His answer was quite good: “well, you know how the Bible says that God created man in his own image? Humanists believe that man created God in HIS own image.” Now I’m not expecting a retort about the historical development of humanism and how some were very religious, or how it is misunderstood or misinterpreted: I’m simply referring to the modern humanist view that religion may or may not be a good thing, or archaic, or irrelevant, but that it is a human invention (as opposed to current atheism that decries religion as evil, e.g. Richard Dawkins). I don’t know exactly where that quote originated, it may have been Muller or Shaw, or my Dad may have coined it in his own words.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to understand just why this view would come about: I find so many different ‘pictures’ or interpretations of God amongst fellow believers that I wonder if we all describe the same God when we talk about him to others. For many, he is an angry, vengeful being who can only be dissuaded from destroying us all by mighty saints like Abraham and Moses who pleaded with Him not to wipe some people out, or by Christ, who only just managed to get us all a pardon from His Father’s wrath. Others portray him as a judge, with a long list of ‘Thou Shalt Not’s on his desk that he checks meticulously while eyeing us suspiciously over half-moon glasses.

Again, I’ve been following a devotional by John Piper (whom I heartily recommend for refreshingly insightful and prophetic devotions on the best known scriptures) about how we are made for his glory, but have fallen short of the mark (Rom. 3:23). It is from Romans 1:23 that he points out how humans foolishly “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being…and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.” (1:23, 25). Piper shows how we gazed into the mirror that reflected God’s glory in us, but soon fell in love with our own image and started to look out for our own desires. Those who peddle the picture of God as one who “wants you to prosper in all things” springs to my mind; if you desire material things, you’ll see God simply as a supplier of those things (“Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?”)

Yet we can all portray the image of a God that fits our world view: We ARE all humanists! We show to others a face or facet of God that may or may not be part of his nature or character, and THAT is an image that others WILL see in us, for we are his representatives on Earth. Others cannot see God, so how we portray him in what we say and what we do is vital! Pray that we present an image of him that he would want us to, not what we THINK he is!

 

BTW, for me all religion is just a human way of codifying or structuring how we approach and worship God, it is FAITH in Christ only that matters.

Grace be with you.

Conflict

I have heard many people say that they hate confrontation or conflict. Of course, who would? Anyone who enjoys it must have some psychological impairment. I don’t mean debate or disagreement; that happens every day and we all should be able to live with it, but conflict with others is something we could do without.

However, conflict is a part of life; it’s almost inevitable in any society. We cannot just bury our heads in the sand and hope it goes away. AND it also occurs WITHIN us all. This is one of the things that shows our Lord’s humanity:

I’ve been reading a devotional by John Piper about Holy Week (yeah, it’s not an ‘apt’ time, but do we have to wait until Easter every year before we can look at Christ’s love and sacrifice at Calvary?). Piper highlights the choice Jesus made to go up to Jerusalem to be handed over to the authorities and to give up his life. He said “It is because I give My life that I might take it back again” (John 10:17 NLV). He resolutely ‘set his face’ to go to Calvary (Luke 9:51).

However, I recalled how also, in the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me” (Matt. 26:39). So while determined to go through with his self-sacrifice, he also desired that it not be required. Here we REALLY see his humanity; he wanted to shy away from this as much as any of us would. He had an internal CONFLICT!

Fortunately for us, right after this plea, he resolved it with “Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

His own wishes were subsumed by his desire to carry out his destiny and the will of His Father. Whenever we face conflict within ourselves, we should (as always) look to his example.

Grace be with you.

Read your Bible FIRST.

I was debating a scriptural principle on the meaning of the word love with a fellow believer a few years ago, but he could not accept what I was saying; it didn’t fit into his world view. He went away, but came back the next day with a verse of scripture, which I thought was out of context and wrongly interpreted, but he said, “See! An old believer I knew years ago told me that if I knew something in my heart was right, I should just search the word of God and I’d find it. There you are.”

Mmmmmm… NO! In other words, RUBBISH! We need to read and search scripture for it to teach US how to live and act, and allow it to change our heart if it challenges us to see that we are deceiving ourselves. On the subject of the heart, it is clear:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jer. 17:9)

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)

Were we to follow the logic of this old believer, we could justify almost anything (and many unholy things have been ‘justified’ by all sorts over the centuries). See, I don’t believe that adultery is really such a sinful thing for Christians… aaaah, didn’t Jesus refuse to condemn the woman brought to him who had been caught in the act of adultery? (John 8:3-11) and he also said that “in the resurrected state neither do [men] marry nor are [women] given in marriage” (Matt.22:30 CEB) so if this is perfection, then the perfect state for a Christian is not to worry about marriage and to practice ‘free love’ – we can sleep around without condemnation (and there really IS no condemnation for us (Rom. 8:1)) However, those of you who have read plenty of scripture know this is utter hogwash. Don’t you? Please tell me you weren’t taken in by that ‘logic’!

Where this becomes dangerous is when people, in order to maintain their ‘righteous’ stance on something (which may be valid or not), start to ignore, reinterpret, or worst of all, CHANGE words from scripture to fit into their personal jigsaw of life. If the word of God clearly states something, tell your heart to change its thoughts.

Grace be with you.