Saturday, June 27, 2009
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
A lot of people have issues with Christianity because it sounds ridiculous to them and doesn't make logical sense. As someone who has grown up in the church, questioned my faith, rejected it for a while before coming back, and then believed again based on logical answers to my questions... I have the opposite problem with Christianity. A lot of times I feel like it makes too much sense and has too many easy answers to tough questions that work... (you know, like how anything that doesn't make sense in the natural realm can be explained by... well, it's God, he can do anything). Personally, I find that to be an easy out answer. Any other religion could claim the same logic with their deities.
I just finished reading the book of Revelations. Definitely a book which raises a lot of questions about justice, sovereignty, and God. Here are some of my thoughts and many many questions:
-It was interesting to rethink Revelations as a "testimony of Jesus Christ" as mentioned in verse 2. Usually the book of Revelations is only thought about as a prediction of the future and not a place where one can really learn about Christ.
-I really liked the lampstand analogy with the lampstands representing the churches. It worked in terms of seeing God walking among the lampstands, but also how lampstands do not shine on their own but require oil. Churches often grow to see themselves as self-sufficient and forget to turn outside of themselves to God to get the oil they need to shine.
-Also liked the stars in the hand of God picture. Remembering that even when everything seems to be failing, the church is in God's hands and he knows what he's doing.
-Letters to the churches were mostly praise mixed with rebuke. It was a good reminder that God can see the little things that often we don't get credit for and wants to reward his people for those little successes. But looking at the faults written out about the churches it was surprising how many of the 'criticisims' were things that Christians are criticized for by those outside of the faith today. Being hypocrites, having a megachurch complex where the church is thriving but things could be going terribly wrong beneath the facade, all program and no content, and Christians not being any different than others (aka. what's the point). I think some of Christianity's critics would be pretty surprised to find that kind of rebuke right in the bible and straight from God. It also seems like maybe God is trying to use people criticizing the church to communicate his own displeasure with some of the things going on in churches today.
-Do we still keep and use our talents/skills in heaven or do we really just bow in worship and sing all day? For God to create such a diverse and gifted set of people it would seem really odd to me for heaven to be such a one action place, but it seems like that's the common conception... The idea that God's awesomeness will be so amazing that we wont want to do anything but praise Him in song and verbal proclamation all day...
-The points where God gives authority to Satan really baffle me. I guess it works as a test to see which people are truly faithful to God and not just accepting Him because it's easy and profitable for them... The commentary was all joyous about God being in control and being the one who gives authority and can take it away. It was also rejoicing over the fact that God in control can use evil like Satan to accomplish His will. That seemed kinda wrong to me. Almost like an ends justify the means logic.
-I always hear Christians talk about how they are glad they wont have to cry when they reach heaven because their family is Christian, but if one can reach heaven without anyone worth crying for, sometimes I wonder how much one has been caring about others and trying to reach out to them. And in general, I think that comment is really unsympathetic to other Christians who are still in the midst of trying to reach out to their families. Sometimes I wonder about the no more tears in heaven thing though. It seems like such an important part of being human and I can't imagine a place full of humans without it.
-So what keeps people from sinning in heaven once its all said and done. I mean, we still have free will right? And 1/3 of the angels rebelled against God even while they were in heaven and immersed in God's presence?
-Revelations was a reminder to me that supernatural and miracles can come from both God and satan and care should be taken not to just go after every miracle as evidence of God's supernatural existence.
-God sends plagues and disasters as a warning for people to turn and repent. At first read that's really reminiscent of torture. Causing pain to make someone go your way. For a world that doesn't believe in a supernatural God, how does that work anyways? Does the fact that God has delayed his wrath and judgment for thousands of years already to give humans a chance to repent and find Him really account for such seemingly harsh treatment? Sometimes I have to really remind myself of God's loving but just nature. People always question why God allows wrongdoing to thrive on earth, pain, etc... but if God really let his justice rule on earth nobody would measure up and everyone would deserve God's wrath by his perfect standards. The fact that Revelations is not the reality today is all grace, and the scary stuff in Revelations is what happens when people really get what they ask for. God stepping in to deal with the evil in the world.
-Also kinda comforting to remember that Satan was an angel and is really not God's direct opposition but is under God's authority. In Revelations, satan is often paired with the archangel Michael.
-It's interesting how false religion is pointed out as the big problem of religion in the end times. In the times where Revelations was written that would've been a pretty new concept. Their biggest problems were with idol worship and turning completely to other gods.
-Last comment is something I'd thought about before reading Revelations. I have mixed feelings about the idea of receiving in heaven based on what we do on earth. While I guess I do believe in being rewarded, I don't think that should ever be the motive for doing good, and so it seems strange to have the fact that there will be a reward spelled out in the bible. Why say there's a reward, why not just reward those who did so in the end? I guess it helps to display God's desire to give and also his attention to the good things we do.
I would provide a conclusion to tie it all together, but this post is long enough as it is. Whew.