4.Seeking God: The Right Way
The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom.
Hello. This article is about the nature of external truth; it is about right and wrong ways to seek God; it is about the nature of language; and it is about the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. I sure hope you like it. If not, I'd like to hear why not (unless you're going to yell at me). I'm listed in the phone book and sometimes I walk around.
Let's start with the nature of external truth. Did I make God in my own image or did he make me in his? I cannot rationally prove God's existence any more than I can rationally disprove God's existence. Indeed, "He's a Blockhead who wants proof of what he can't Perceive,/ And he's a Fool who tries to make such a Blockhead believe" (William Blake). This article is not about my proving God to you. This article is about how God will "prove" himself to you if you are willing to listen.
There are right ways and wrong ways to seek God. (To those who say that right and wrong don't really exist, I say they do. Am I right or am I wrong? Speak up, I can't hear you.) God speaks in a still, small voice. We are to seek him with a broken and contrite heart. We are to seek him in fear and trembling. We are to seek him in humility, reverence, and honesty. We are to seek God on his terms, and not on ours (read Job 38-39).
If you bring your agenda to the Bible, then that's exactly what you'll find there. If you read the Bible as a feminist looking for sexism, you will certainly find it. If you read the Bible as a free-spirit looking for an excuse to smoke pot, you will certainly find one. If you read the Bible as Joseph Campbell, then you will find an influential religious text about some dead people who may or may not have lived a long time ago.
But if you humbly put your agenda aside and bow down in total submission to your creator with an honest and obedient heart , then you might actually hear the true voice of God. Jesus said, "Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever would lose his life for my sake will find it" (Mathew 16:25). How many of us are willing to die for God? We would rather not look foolish. We would rather not take the chance. We are not looking for God. We are hiding from God. Unless you are willing to trust God and to obey his will, you will not hear his voice. You will hear exactly what you want to hear.
And now, a word to the thinking man/womyn. You have about as much chance of finding God with your analytical intellect as a blind man has of finding a rose with a metal detector. Religion is man's failure to reach God. Jesus is God's success to reach man. The language of God is love, and unless you have the love of Jesus in your heart, you will find what you think you are looking for, but it won't be God.
God knows who he is. God knows who you are. Furthermore, God doesn't just want you to know about him, he wants you to know him intimately. Faith is not rationally believing that God exists. Faith is actively living as if God exists. A religion major alone will not do. It is possible that some God-fearing gas station attendant in Decherd knows the Lord better than half of the religion majors on this mountain. Hear the words of Jesus, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do mighty works in your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me you evildoers.' (Mathew 7:21-23).
And now, a word to the text-sperts concerning the nature of language. God does exist. Love does exist. Granted, "God" and "love" are just words, but the external truths which they signify are real. Granted, "real" is just a word, but the external truth which it signifies is also real. If you want to experience love defined, let Jesus into your heart and begin to meditate on the unfathomable gift of God's son to man. "God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
This is what the Bible has to say about semiotics (the theory of sign-systems in language): "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father" (John 1:1-4, 14).
If there is only one Word, then why are there so many different languages? Genesis tells us that "the whole earth had only one language and few words" (11:1). Then men built the tower of Babel "with its top in the heavens" in order to "make a name for [them]selves" (11:4). The Lord repaid their pride by "confus[ing] their language" in order to keep them from "understand[ing] one another's speech" (11:7).
Our own pride has thrown us into confusion, but God himself is not a God of confusion. Jesus is the truth in all languages, and the Holy Spirit is his living interpreter. When the Holy Spirit came down from Jesus on the day of Pentecost, he miraculously broke down the language barrier and restored understanding to a fallen world.
"When the day of Pentecost came, [the twelve disciples] were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance."
"Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound, the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were amazed and wondered, 'Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear each of us in his own native language?'" (Acts 2:1-8). God is well aware language's limitations. He created them, and he can overcome them.
If Jesus is the one word, way, truth, and light; then why are there so many different interpretations of who God is? Good question. As per usual, the problem is not with God, the problem is with us. In the movie Aliens, Sigorny Weaver and company are trapped in a room surrounded by a bunch of aliens. The fear-stricken sergeant of Weaver's group is monitoring the Alien's movement on a computer. The computer indicates that the aliens are inside of the room, but there are no Aliens in sight. In his frustration, the sergeant angrily shakes his computer and yells, "It's not reading right." Sigorny Weaver calmly retorts, "Maybe you're not reading it right." Moments later, a bevy of aliens descend from behind the room's ceiling panels and proceed to much.
Like the computer, God is not broken. We are just not reading him right. Jesus is the Word, the Holy Spirit is the interpreter, and all that is required on our part is the faith of a mustard seed. With that faith, we can ask God to give us more faith, and he will. This is not about your father or your neighbor or an Antarctic Eskimo name Joe. God will deal with them accordingly, just as he will deal with you accordingly. "For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart" (I Samuel 16:7).
You will not receive the power of the Holy Spirit until you ask Jesus into your heart and begin to let God direct your life. But when you do, you will know that the Holy Spirit is not an optical illusion, he is not a Freudian projection, and he is not wishful thinking. The Holy Spirit is the almighty power of the living God, and he rocks. Father God, may these words be the aroma of Christ to you among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.