More Thoughts on Christianity – Relationship and Being Called

A friend from waaaay back – half a lifetime ago – has found my blog and has commented.  I am humbled by his participation.  I remember having many long discussions with Wayfarer about many things way back then.  He is a gifted speaker and writer, whereas I tend to be blunt and to-the-point. Hopefully, he remembers my communication style!  I mention it for anyone who is not familiar and may find the following forward.

Wayfarer recently read my post ‘Thoughts on Christianity’ and left the following comment:

“Christianity is a relationship” – that maxim can become trite and become corrupted and commodtized, but at its essence, it is true.

I agree with this.  Whenever two (or more) entities interact with each other, there will be a relationship.

As long as it is remembered that it is relationship with a capital R. This is the God who created heaven and earth, who has come to tabernacle with us in our midst and in all who believe in Jesus by His Spirit. It is the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4-5 etched out in the warp and woof of our lives and burning, and we are the canvas and we are the fireplace. It is the Cross of Christ lifted up over our heads and we are at His feet and we are with Him and in Him as He suffered and died.

This is all very beautifully written, Wayfarer.  You say that God comes to live in all who believe in Jesus.  What about those who don’t believe?  What about those that can’t believe.  I am not talking about an intellectual rejection.  I am talking about someone who does not have the ability to understand these concepts you are talking about.  (Heck, I’m not sure I always understand it!)  What about them?  Does God come to reside in them?  Can they know God?

And we relive it every day in self-denial and putting others ahead of ourselves. It is the Resurrection and we have hope and life and healing because He lives. It is hearing His still small voice and anasering back in humility and worship. It is that daily miracle when our prayers are answered, when we reach out to others to bless and love them as we love ourselves, and God intervenes in their lives because we asked. It is that joy we feel when we have lived Jesus’ life and walked in His footsteps and we experience Life as it was meant to be lived by the Designer.

Again, beautiful words.  What about people who cannot think of others? Who literally cannot practice self-denial or even contemplate putting themselves in other peoples’ shoes?  Who cannot reach out to others?  I am not talking about a person with a serious character flaw of selfishness.  I am talking about a medical condition.

If we are dry and if we are shattered, there is only One who can water us and who can remake us again. By all means leave the legalistic religiousness that passes for true faith in so many. But never leave Christ. As Peter and the rest said, where can we go – He has the words of eternal life. He is the fountain of life. He is our song of joy. he is the One who loved us first. How could we leave Him? If you feel your grip on faith slipping, look to Him – He is the author and finisher fo your faith. Cry out to Him. I do not pretend to know what has caused you to come to such a dreadful place that you consider such a thing. But I hope you do not step over that threshold ever…

If God is love, and Scripture says He is, then to reject God would be to reject love.

Christianity is a community too.  < Here, Wayfarer gives some suggestions of churches in the Melbourne area. >

This I believe and agree with.

And now, some more thoughts about having a relationship with Christ and the ability  to come into that relationship:

In the Calvinist/Reformed tradition, there is the idea that God saves whom He will save.  It has all been predestined.  This is quite different from the Evangelical position of having to make a personal decision for Christ.  In the Reformed view, there is such a thing as someone not being able to be saved because he isn’t one of the elect.  So, I guess for those damned people, they are not going to be able to come into that relationship either.

That’s another thought to wrestle with.

To Be Continued.

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Posted on Wednesday, November 30th, 2011, in Evangelicalism, God, Religion and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I believe Matthew 8:3 speaks to this. The kingdom of heaven is for children. The Gospels, time and time again show us that God is not as legalistic as he is loving.

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    • Hi tobeforgiven. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

      I believe the verse you are talking about is Matthew 18:3. (Matt 8:3 is about something else!) Yes, the kingdom of heaven is for children.

      I’m afraid this verse doesn’t really address my questions though:
      1) What if a person/child CANNOT come to God?
      2) What if a person is not called? (Are some people not part of the ‘elect’? Scripture seems to indicate so.)

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  2. Hi Yewnique. Of course I remember how you were like – not that you are much different in your manner nowadays as far as I can notice anyway (save for more experience and maturity of course)…And most unfairly, you have endured through the years with far less wear and tear than yours truly!

    it was so much fun in uni days for all of us, wasn’t it? Zero responsibility (except to get good results) and youthful fun and energy are a great combination. I recall most of all your utter conviction that your highest role was to be a mother. I was not surprised at all to see what a capable mother you turned out to be years later…

    But anyway, on to your latest blog – frankly, I do not know how an autistic person for example may have a relationship with God. I also do not know how he or she can put his faith in Jesus. What I do know about the Lord, is that He wants nothing to hinder the little children to come to him. I do know that He loves the helpless – the widows, the orphaned, the aliens. He cares for their needs and instituted many specific laws in the Old Testament to cater for them. Scripture tells us that it is the duty of parents to teach their children to love the Lord. Is it possible for an autistic child to be taught to love and believe in the Lord? I suspect that it is, and that the parents should still endeavour with all sincerity and much prayer to do so just as they endlessly try to draw the child from beyond the walls of that seemingly impenetrable solitude. Stil, even if it were not, from what I know of our God, I believe that He will cater for them and He will draw them to himself nevertheless for they do not have the capacity to make an informed decision about Him.

    The temptation of knowledge and assurance robs us from the far greater and stronger certainty of faith. Even though we do not know the answers to such pressing questions, what we do know and what Scripture has shown us – is the character and heart of our God. Knowing that, we reach out for Him and cry out in the darkness, believing that in the heart of His light, He is not only Holiness and Justice – but He is also Love. So too Abraham was called upon to do the unthinkable and sacrifice the son of promise. He trusted the Lord because he knew the character and love of his God even though He was asking him to seemingly do something that he could not even imagine that God could ask him to do. Yet he held on in faith and believed that even if he killed Isaac, God could resurrect him. But God had a better way – and showed His true purpose when He supplied the ram to be killed in Isaac’s place. That is a lesson for us too to also follow as well in our own searching and in our own questions…

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  3. On the Calvinist issue, most Calvinists actually do not adopt double predestination which refers not only to God electing people to salvation, but also that God condemns certain people to damnation. It is actually an attempt to read Scriptures according to what it says. The Bible does seem to suggest that there is an election by God of believers to salvation. (It does not however say explicitly that God has damned people to condemnation). The Bible also shows that people have freedom of will and choice and that decisions made by people are real decisions – i.e. they are not puppets on a string. How do you reconcile those two positions that seem to be contradictory? I do not know. I only know that the Word of God seems to show these two positions and that we should therefore follow them.

    It reminds me of that isue we learned in high school – how light can be explained as a wave and how it can be explained as a particle (a “photon”). The two positions seem to be contradictory – yet scientists have observed results that prove both positions. It seems true then that the truth contains a big piece of the jigsaw puzzle that we do not yet know let alone understand. However that does not stop scientists and engineers from using both theories to achieve useful results and outcomes in science and engineering.

    In the same way, we can also hold on to the knowledge that God elects us to salvation and that we have free choice to believe, ewvne though we cannot reconcile the seeming contradiction.

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    • ‘In the same way, we can also hold on to the knowledge that God elects us to salvation and that we have free choice to believe, ewvne though we cannot reconcile the seeming contradiction.’

      We could hold on to that knowledge, but it would be a lifetime of inner conflict. Or, a LOT of mental gymnastics to try to get around the contradictions…

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  4. Or it could be acceptance of who we are and of who God is, and of our limits and of His greatness. Conflict comes when we demand for something and we do not get it. In this case, demanding for empirical confirmation and for total certainty which obviates the need for faith.

    However, when we rest in faith in who God is an dwhat He promised and said, it is our opportunity to reject the temptation to distrust Him and to ascribe to Him unworthy motives – as what happened in Eden when the serpent persuaded Eve to believe that God did not want them to know the knowledge of good and evil and eprsuaded her to believe that that kniowledge was good for humans to know.

    Perhaps that is why faith is so important to God and to us – because in Eden at the Fall, mankind chose to reject faith in God’s word and character in favour of sense-derived knowledge (she saw that the fruit was good looking and good to eat). Whenever we exercise faith, we reject that fatal Edenic choice and affirm the power of the New Covenant in our lives…

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  5. And maybe there are mysteries and puzzles that are too big for our puny minds to understand in our present state…philosophers and theologians have struggled with the tension between divine sovereignty and free will for thousands of years. Who is to say that maybe we are not capable of comprehending the issue nor resolving it? Do we need to answer every mystery and every question before we will believe this God who has already shown and demonstrated His love for us in an irrefutable way by sending His only begotten Son?

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