God made us in His image for relationship with Him.
As I mentioned in my last post, there are two ways to fish. One way is complicated – all the gear, lots of practice, special trips, study of both the art of fishing and the habits of the fish, and usually the inversion of copious amounts of time and money. The other way is simple – grab a pole, grab some line and a hook, and go stand at the river. Both methods are good and valuable, but they each look and feel different.
Christianity in our society is often overwhelmed with the complicated approach. Explain, explain, explain. Answer the criticisms, show the proof, argue the details. We live in the information society, so we need to prove everything. This can lead to many fantastic conversations and provide some very fulfilling answers. But it can also rob us of the joy of the simple story of our faith.
So how do we get this simplicity back with Christianity?
I think the answer is just as simple: We focus on the big ideas of our faith, and let go of the incessant need to explain every detail. Again, I’m not suggesting that those details don’t matter or aren’t interesting, just that they can rob us of the simple truths that can bring both joy and peace. Today I want to focus on two big ideas that can get bogged down in details.
The first is this: That God exists.
Our society has made this idea seem foolish, when it’s really quite logical. Complexity by its very nature indicates the presence of an intelligence behind it, so to see a complex world implies a significant intelligence. Morals are intrinsically relational, so it isn’t illogical to think that they indicate a person – God – behind them. Human children look like their parents, so it isn’t ridiculous to think that humanity resembles Someone greater than us. Nothing can create itself, so when confronted with a universe that had a beginning, it makes sense to think something – or more accurately, Someone (since “things” also don’t have intelligent creative power) – began it. Humanity seems to have an intrinsic inclination towards worship, and if not to worship, at least to look for meaning beyond ourselves, all of which points to a source and fulfillment beyond ourselves.
Of course, none of these arguments are “proof”, but that’s not my point here. My point is simply that the existence of God makes sense. It is more our society that has declared it illogical than the actual facts themselves. There is no compelling reason why we shouldn’t believe in God.
But the implications are also significant and simple. Someone is in control. Someone is in charge. Like a child is able rest easy because they know that their parents are present and in charge, so can we “rest easy” because we know that there is a God who is overseeing all of the goings on of humanity and this world, even while giving us freedom to make our own choices. When everything seems out of control, when we have no idea what’s going on, when tragedy hits or when life is going well, we can rest in the simple knowledge that there is One who knows and oversees all. This is peace.
The second big detail is this: that we were created in His image and have intrinsic value.
Humanity is complicated and messy. But we are valuable and special as well. Scripture paints us as made in His image – like God. In some ways, this has been captured in our western society, where we proclaim (but don’t always live) the value of all people, regardless of age, race, nationality, economic status, and yes, even sexuality. Unfortunately, this message of the value of humanity is contradicted by the teaching that humans are nothing special, just advanced primates, and that there is no actual cosmic significance to our lives. What is affirmed in one breath is taken away in the next.
By contrast, Christianity teaches that we are valuable because we reflect God Himself. We are not just extra smart animals. It also teaches that our lives have significance, and that we are created both for purpose (to work and govern this world) and, ultimately, for relationship (eternally with others and with God). From the unborn to the elderly, from the sick to the healthy, from the rich to the poor, and every variation in between, humans are intrinsically valuable. And the heart of the gospel is the story of Jesus – that God Himself actually came as a human to identify with us, to experience our world as one of us, and to resolve the death situation that faces us all (this is a topic for a future post). When reading the Bible, it’s pretty clear that God wants to have a relationship with us – that’s why He created us in the first place.
And so we affirm two simple ideas, both of which can bring tremendous peace and joy:
God exists and is in control.
You are special and loved – created in His image to have a relationship with Him.
Let those simple truths sink in.