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Not getting it

Discussion in 'Exploring Christianity' started by trustgod, Nov 24, 2008.

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  1. trustgod

    trustgod Regular Member

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    I guess you could label me as a "seeker" as I've spent the past several years trying to figure out God/religion/faith/Christianity. I've read a lot of apologetics books in my quest to understand all this. Since, by nature, I'm a very analytical person, facts speak to me much more than emotions and feelings, which has made it extremely difficult for me to come to a point where I can truly grasp and understand things of this matter.

    Having said that, I think I've grasped the concept of God as the creator of the universe and life. There are actually many facts relating to this particular issue/subject that make sense, to me at least, allowing me to satisfy my analytical nature and conclude that God is indeed our creator.

    However, when it comes to understanding the concept of God as a "personal God," who loves me, cares for me, and desires to have a relationship with me, I just don't get it. It doesn't make sense to me; I feel awkward when I pray, and just don't understand how, out of 6 billion people, I matter a hill of beans to the guy who created the universe. Surely, having done that, he has much more important concerns than lowly I. I feel silly whenever I attempt to pray, having given up talking to imaginary friends decades ago (not saying God is imaginary, I just don't feel like there is anyone listening).

    Going to church is downright depressing. Walking into church with 1,000 people who do "get it" makes me feel inferior (they get it but I don't), defective, and just plain old dumb. What do they know that I don't? is what I'm thinking. How could so many people be singing along with "Jesus is my boyfriend" as if He was physically present and listening, when I don't experience that. My faith, such as it is, is always weaker leaving church than it is when I go. I feel silly sticking out as almost the only one who doesn't partake in communion, but I'd be a hypocrite if I did.

    I guess experiencing the emotional, personal side of God is either something I'm not wired to understand, as there is no logical path or argument that works on an emotional level, which is what I see the personal relationship as being. I'm not much of a touchy-feely person anymore (my youth has long since passed, call me more of a cynic), so when it comes to having to base a relationship with someone I can't see soley on emotions and love, that doesn't compute for me.

    I didn't really write this to solicit advice, input and suggestions. I guess I really just wanted to put down in words things I've felt for a long time. Anyway, thanks for reading, if you made it this far...
     
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  2. Celticflower

    Celticflower charity crocheter

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    Just a thought but -- if you walk into a church with 1000 other people, how do you know for certain that every one of that 1000 "get it"? Many of them may be struggling with the same doubts as you, but they put on a mask so nobody else will know.

    We all have doubts and times when God feels very far away. The trick is to hold on to whatever bit of faith you do have and be open to Him. If prayer makes you feel awkward than just talk. No fancy phrases, no magic formula. Just tell Him what is going on, what's going wrong and what's going right.

    Sometimes I think people can try too hard when it comes to a relationship (of any kind). So don't try so hard for a while. You may find that God was there all along.
     
  3. JohnDB

    JohnDB Regular Member

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    I made it this far and yeah...so did God.

    Anylitical thinking is needed to be one of God's special called children.
    God is omnicient. (meaning He knows everything) All of your gifts, talents and abilities were given to you by His divine pleasure. (OK, past the gobbledeegook) He created you for a reason and a purpose.

    The same God who was smart enough to give you life so that you could have it more abundantly than the rest of mankind put you here to work...for him. There are many who go to church for friendships and being one of the "good guys"...but that ain't you.

    There is a story about Jesus waiting at the Temple all day in Jerusalem doing nothing but waiting. Women in Bible times were little more than property. A pretty woman of marriagable age was worth something but an old widowed woman wasn't worth anything to anyone. She would have no money, friends, status or worth in their culture at that time.
    Everyone who went into the Temple had to pay in order to gain entrance and then again an offering in order to make a prayer.
    This same Jesus who worked a relentless schedule of preaching till exhaustion regularly sat and waited for this one old widowed woman to put in the least amount of money given that day in the offering box. (Two copper coins) She gave all she had just so she could speak with God. She needed that money for food too. And Jesus, the Agent of Creation, sat and waited for her the whole day with anticipation and heralding when she showed up.

    King David, for all of the stuff said about him good and bad , was the least of his tribe (which was very very small at that time) and he was the smallest and youngest of his brothers. All of David's "mighty men" were rejects from society as well...but they all in the end ruled Israel.

    OR

    How about Caleb, the guy who with the 12 spies sent to check out the Promised Land. He was the one who said "lets go because God said we could" even though there were Giants. And in the end he did actually live past the forty years to go in and kill them Giants...He was given their town as his portion and he in turn gave it to the Levites...
    What most don't know about Caleb was that he wasn't Jewish by birth. He was only adopted in. He never felt like he belonged either. His half brother became the very first Judge in Israel.

    Caleb and David were the least (two examples out of a whole book of God choosing the least likely candidates) of all of their contemporaries. Everyone else seemed to "get it" and they didn't. The 12 Apostles weren't much better. These guys all flunked out of Pharisee school as well. (Bethmidrash) There were a lot of guys running about that prayed better, had better sounding lessons, seemed to have the whole religious thing down so well. But...Jesus didn't want them...he wanted 12 simple men of humble positions...no pretty and well taught manners and things to say. They simply had hearts of passion to do what God wanted as best as they could. Not a one of them perfect or flawless (although many would have you believe otherwise) They simply had passion for what they believed and knew to be true.

    So...they told what they knew to be true. Peter who had trouble reading and writing so other's could read it was their "Group leader" as chosen by Jesus. Unschooled and unlearned except at Jesus' feet. Jesus being the least successful Messiah out of the dozens who claimed they were at that time.

    You, my friend/brother, are exceptionally watched over by God.

    but if I were you I would find another church to attend on Sundays.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2008
  4. Harry3142

    Harry3142 Regular Member

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    I wonder how many of those 1,000 people have had doubts of their own belief, just as as you are. It's safe to say that there have been times in our lives when our faith has been weak. It's then that we must trust in God's ability to hold on to us, rather than in our ability to hold on to him.
     
  5. trustgod

    trustgod Regular Member

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    Good point -- I don't know for certain how many of those people do "get it." I can't see their hearts or thoughts, so all I have to go by is their actions and what I see is a LOT of people who are either good fakers, or really do get it. I realize that more than a few there probably do have their doubts or questions, and I know all believers probably go through that, but as I sit there listening, I couldn't be more confused about things.


    I understand what you're saying however, I haven't gotten to the point where God ever felt near. He's always felt far away so I have no small bit of faith to hold on to, because it's something I've never had in the first place. I wish there was a magic formula for this.

    I've been working on this "relationship" for 4+ years. Maybe you're right -- maybe I should stop trying. If God wants me, he'll pursue me, right? That's what I've heard at least. Maybe the best thing would be to forget about the whole subject?


    I have actually done a lot of reading on the subject, ranging from apologetics to atheistic writings. Ironically, the Christian worldview is the one that makes the most sense to me. I'm just not able to bridge the "personal relationship" gap that seems to be standing in my way.

    I'm sure I'm not the only one who has faced this dilemna before. Having a very logical, reasoning mind makes it difficult for those of us afflicted with such "gifts" to grasp things that cannot be logically deduced. Therein lies my problem...



    I'm not sure I fit into that category. I've never had the faith you are referring to, so I don't really have any doubts, so to speak. All I have is a lack of understanding. As in, I don't understand really what you mean when you say that we must trust in God's ability to hold on to us. Does he really do that? What convinced you?
     
  6. Ikuis

    Ikuis Truth is not negotiable

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    Somehow I doubt that you could "forget about the whole subject". Seems to me he's got you hooked, and he is not going to let you go even though you still cannot see him too clearly, but you sense him and he's got you searching. :) Agonising isn't it!

    But, you know, sometimes I think there is a purpose behind God's mystery if only that by struggling to seek him, we become more convincingly convicted of his reality. If he were as transparently obvious as the sun would we really take any notice anymore?

    One other thought is that are we too concerned with expecting God to come to us and reveal his presence rather than we going to him? And if we talk about reaching out to him, what do we mean by that? One answer is to consider the cross itself: The upright can represent the union between God and humanity, heaven and earth, the 1st commandment to love God. But the crossbar goes sideways embracing the whole of humanity. Jesus was nailed on the crossbar, dying for all of mankind. Here is the 2nd commandment, love one another. How did Jesus tell us that we do things for him: by helping the least of our brethren. Sometimes we find God by doing right for others around us, our families, friends, work colleagues, and strangers. Things start to happen.......
     
  7. trustgod

    trustgod Regular Member

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    You very well may be right in that he's got me searching. If that's what is actually going on, then he probably won't let me drop it, much as I might be tempted to. And yes, it is very agonizing.

    I'm not really asking, or demanding, him to show himself. In fact, I realize that that will never happen. So that's not where things are breaking down for me. Rather, I don't seem able to make the leap from God-as-the-creator to God-who-loves-me. There seems to be a wall between the two that I cannot scale or go around.

    I'm not at all trying to be argumentative here. I'm really just thinking out loud, wondering how so many others are able to embrace God as a personal savior while I cannot. Am I defective? Am I way too analytical about this like I am with most things in life (I often suffer from analysis paralysis)? Am I too smart, too dumb, too emotionless, too....?
     
  8. Celticflower

    Celticflower charity crocheter

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    Just the fact that you are searching shows you do have a tiny bit of faith. Hold on to that crumb. As long as you acknowledge that there is a creator God, you are on the right track. May I ask which type of church do you go to? IMHO, the differing denominations exist because people respond to the message differently. Maybe you have not found the one that clicks with your way of understanding. There is nothing wrong with trying out different worship styles and experiences.

    Also, you might try reaching out to Jesus, rather than God. Let Him help you find your way. The Gospel of John is a great place to start.
    Keep searchng - even a tiny bit of faith is better than none at all.
     
  9. Lukaris

    Lukaris Orthodox Christian

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    Jesus Christ as all have said is first & foremost of course. Since you have an analytical & scientific bent, perhaps the (Eastern Orthodox) understanding of the uncreated energy of God as being part of grace may be of some help. The article I am linking is a bit over my head but it may not be as difficult as it may seem either: http://orlapubs.com/AR/R75.html God bless.
     
  10. GreenMunchkin

    GreenMunchkin Likes things. And stuff. But mostly things. Supporter

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    I think lots of us struggle with comprehending The Almighty as Someone who would love us all individually. I guess, in some ways, this is where Trinitarianism comes in. You clearly believe in God, and Lewis's Trilemma has Jesus covered... so I suppose the question is whether you believe that Jesus is God? Because that's how we can "zone in" on the fact that each and every one of us is specifically loved by God.
    You're none of the above :hug: Truthfully, I haven't embraced God the Father as my personal Saviour... although, I understand intellectually that He very much is. But I can barely comprehend of a God that created the stars - the Almighty, the Most High - let alone His love for us all. But Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and they're my best friends, and Ones we can come to know as we spend time with them. It's Jesus that died on the cross for you, and it's the Holy Spirit that ministers to you, and it's God the Father that created the universe. And they're 3 parts of the same.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2008
  11. trustgod

    trustgod Regular Member

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    You brought up Jesus, who I honestly haven't given much thought. If Jesus is God, then Jesus should get as much "airtime" as God does, shouldn't he? Maybe it's just me and the places I frequent (including church), but Jesus is given a second billing, at best. If Jesus is mentioned once, God is mentioned 100 times. If they are essentially one and the same, why aren't they referred to equally? This is a tangent, but something that's been troubling me so.

    Back to the conversation at hand. Do I believe that Jesus is God? I think I could be convinced of that pretty easily. But that's not the point. Let's assume that I believe in God, assume Jesus is God, believe that Jesus did on the cross for me, and the Holy Spirit does it's thing (whatever that is). I'll even go out on a limb here and assume that God/Jesus actually does love me. The point I'm trying to make here, albiet not very successfully I don't think, is that I am unable/incapable of making that emotional connection back to God/Jesus. I feel nothing. Emotionless. That's what I was referring to when I mentioned 1,000 (give or take) people at church. I can SEE the emotion. Either it was real, or they at least had enough to fake it pretty well. As for me, it's just an intellectual exercise.

    Logically, I can convince myself that God exists, but it doesn't go much beyond that. So, that's where I'm stuck, and have been stuck, for the past number of years. It's a barrier that I can't break down, and I really don't see it disappearing anytime soon. I'm not a very emotional type (for what it's worth), so things that might emotionally move others to tears, get a passing nod from me. Not good, and not bad. That's just how I'm wired. Which, coming full circle, makes it extremely difficult to forge an emotional connection to someone I cannot see (even though I'm pretty sure he/they exist).

    Still more or less just thinking out loud, and I don't expect answer and solutions here. Maybe this is more for my edification than not (another one of my intellectual exercises!)? Thanks for all the thoughts and such. I'm glad that many of you are able to do what I cannot .
     
  12. GreenMunchkin

    GreenMunchkin Likes things. And stuff. But mostly things. Supporter

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    A tangent, perhaps, but still relevant, I think. I've never come across a church that gave Jesus second billing... without Him, we wouldn't even have the churches. That's a hard thing to address for a couple of reasons: a) have honestly never encountered that before, and b) while I think it's wrong, it would be wrong of me to claim it means there's something wrong with the actual churches, as they may be wonderful, Spirit-filled houses of God.

    The problem is, though, in solely teaching about God the Father, they're teaching about His majesty and Holiness - which is awesome. But are people being taught that Jesus died for them and loves them, now today, and that the Holy Spirit comforts them, now today? And, if not, how can people have a personal, loving relationship with Him?
    Assuming you believe all that? Then according to scriptures, you *are* a Christian. The rest is almost ancillary, inasmuch as, what makes us Christian is believing in Him, and the salvation He gives us. We aren't a Christian because we can jump up and down, and lift our hands to him and be emotional about it. I mean, all those things are great, but they're just an extension of what really matters - which is being a Christian.
    Ok, what are your thoughts on God? And what are your thoughts on Jesus? Am saying, from a purely intellectual perspective, what are your repsective thoughts on both?
    It feels a little like you're trying to make a round peg fit through a square hole. None of us are the same - just because other Christians are able to express those emotions, it doesn't mean you have to. I know that's probably stating the obvious, but it seems like you're saying that your reacting differently than most people somehow invalidates your potential relationship with God, and with Jesus, and it really doesn't.

    If a thousand people go into great paroxysms of joy over a bar of chocolate and I don't, it doesn't mean I don't love the chocolate, too. It just means I'm different from the 1000 people. No worse, no better, not defective nor broken: just different.

    I absolutely believe that God can *give* you that joy, and it's something you and He can work on together, but it seems like your feeling you ought to be something you're not is somehow preventing you from taking that final leap, and that's a real shame because with Jesus it's pretty much come as you are.
    Hey, your faith is rooted in something cognitive and intellectual - you have solid roots upon which to build your relationship with Him. That's awesome, too. We all form the body of Christ, and we're all needed to make it whole. Different talents and abilities and strengths and weaknesses, and together we represent Him. I don't see your intellectual approach as contradictory to my more emotional approach; I see it as complementary. The body of Christ needs both to be balanced and whole.
     
  13. trustgod

    trustgod Regular Member

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    The first commandment is to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. And the second commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.

    The operative word in those commandments is "love" -- a relationship with God (and Jesus) requires us to love him. Not intellectually conclude they exist, but to actually love them. However, for someone who has difficulty experiencing and expressing that type of emotion (particularly to the unseen), this is very difficult to do. Without being able to love God, can one have a relationship with him? Can someone who doesn't have a relationship with God/Jesus truly be a Christian?


    I very much appreciate everyone's thoughts on this. I'm just at a loss as to what to do now (thinking out loud). I do feel I'm up against a wall, and that wall is decidely much stronger than I am. I don't think I'll disappear, but am out of ideas on this...
     
  14. GreenMunchkin

    GreenMunchkin Likes things. And stuff. But mostly things. Supporter

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    Then I guess the question is, how do you define love?

    By the same token, those are the laws we are to keep - they in and of themselves aren't what make us a Christian. We're saved by faith, not works.
     
  15. tansy

    tansy Senior Member

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    :wave: Hi - I don't think the love that's talked about here is necessarily purely about emotion,,,it's often an action pf the will, Jesus said love your enemies as well as those you would naturally love. It's often a practical love (as opposed to something mushy and sentimental) Not sure if am putting this very well.
    It's possible I think, that if you come into a personal relationship with God, that emotions may follow later....God takes you as you are, but will start bringing you into wholeness as a person. However, I think an analytical mind certainly has it's place!
    Forgive me if I'm too personal, but have you asked God to show you Truth? Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life ,,,, have you asked Him to come into your life...there's loads more one could say, but I don't want to say stuff you already know.
    God says, if you seek Him, you will find Him,,,so keep going in hope, and God bless you and give you understanding :)
     
  16. Ikuis

    Ikuis Truth is not negotiable

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    You are right that Love is the background to the Christian faith - and it is 2-way. God also loves his creation. As you say, it is this love and its associated, anticipated, emotion that you are not connecting with.

    But surely there are many different forms of love that express themselves in their own unique way: partner/partner; parent/child; child/pet and so on. Some types of love seem to have always existed, sometimes it hits us out of the blue, sometimes it simply grows out of something else such as trust and respect for someone. I think loving God comes pretty close to the last case of growing from an initial trust, acceptance and respect.

    Another feature of love is that it is active and not passive. It stirs us to do things with, and for, the person we love. Jesus is very specific in the parable of the goats and sheep (Matt 25:31-46) that he wants us to actively love him by actively helping others that he also loves. He is kind of saying to us: "If you really love me then I ask you to help my loved ones who are in distress". The interesting thing about this parable is that there is no mention of faith, only deeds. But this does not mean that faith is not necessary, rather it is implied as being the motivation for these deeds. James also points to the same when he writes that "...faith without deeds is dead" (James 2:26).

    I am a poor prayer warrior. Like you, praying for me often feels likes I'm talking on a cellphone knowing there is no battery in it. But I find it feels most genuine when I pray for others, i.e. intercessory prayer. This prayer is based on a trust that God listens and is willing to participate in other people's lives. Many people keep records of their intercessory prayers and are staggered, when they look back, how often their prayers are answered.

    I think sometimes we simply have to make our stand and say to God something like: "Ok, right now I feel I don't really know you, but, in spite of that, I have decided to trust that you really are talking to me through the Bible, to be on your side, to live for you and work for you. Please help me to get to know you better so that I may love you more" . Just like the father in Mark's gospel who cried out: "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mk 9:24). I am sure in time you will find communication opens up.

    Have you seen this verse?:

    "God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us." Acts 17:27
     
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  17. trustgod

    trustgod Regular Member

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    Yes, I have asked God to show me the truth and come into my life. More than once, yet here I sit still not getting it.

    I think I have figured out why I haven't gotten it yet. Why I find it so difficult for me to love God and have a relationship with him. I think it's because I view God as some abstract figure somewhere far off in the distance. Which is why, for example, praying is so difficult and feels so funny for me. And why I find it difficult to relate to those 1,000 people sitting in church worshipping him. And, I don't know what it would take for me to understand him as a living God here on earth instead of an abstract entity who can be defined, but is seperated from us by this abstraction that also defines him. So, there, I think, is the crux of my problem.
     
  18. tansy

    tansy Senior Member

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    Well, I suspect that we all have that difficulty from time to time - I certainly do :) Sometimes, it all seems crazy beyond belief. I'm not sure God can be totally defined, and it's almost like the harder we try to understand Him and love Him the harder it can seem.
    Peopkle have often said to me that I think too much, and certainly if i try and analyse God and what goes on with Him, actually the more unreal and distant He becomes.......maybe cos it's impossible for us to totally grasp the whole of Him. In the end, I think the general message of the Bible (apart from repenting and turning to Christ), is trust and obey. I don't know, but maybe it's best to just offer oneself to Jesus aech day, and then relax.....maybe He'll just kind of creep up on you and you'll recognize His presence.
    I'm afraid my rambling thoughts probably aren't that helpful, but I don't want you to think that you're alone in your difficulties, :)
     
  19. Ryft

    Ryft Nihil sine Deo.

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    He did more than create this vast and complex universe. The reason why out of some six billion people you, as a unique person, matter to God can be very succinctly stated: he also created you. Given what you have said elsewhere in this thread, I have a hunch that your view of God has more in common with Deism than with Christianity; e.g., "I view God as some abstract figure somewhere far off in the distance." It is inherently difficult to develop or even recognize a relationship with a God who created the entire cosmos and then stepped back while the universe developed under its own impetus. There is no point of contact with such a God; it feels like several billion years of evolution separates you from the last time God had anything to do with his creation. Ergo, he makes sense analytically but not on the personal level at which you exist.

    That's a significant obstacle. So I suggest that the first step you need to take in order to bridge this awkward chasm is to evaluate your view of God. Currently your view of God, being more similar to Deism than anything, makes it practically impossible to develop a relationship with God. So sit back and ask yourself, "How is it I came to have this view of God? What informed my view? Is it accurate?" The only reason we know that God is more than some transcendent abstract entity—the only reason we know anything about God at all—is because he disclosed information about himself to mankind. Let me flesh out this concept allegorically.

    A friend of Morgan's told her that there exists some writer named David, and had sufficient evidence for that claim enough for Morgan to accept it analytically. However, on the personal level it was practically meaningless to her. She had no idea who David is, other than what was provided by the proposition about his existence and that he is a writer. She may contemplate about him, trying to infer what she can from the fact that he is a writer, but in the final analysis he is a proposition, not a person. Yet what if she came across a number of books he had written not only about himself, describing his character and values, but also about things he had said to this person and done at that place, etc.? It stands to reason that David would then mean something more to her than he did before, because now she knows so much more about him as a person. There is still no personal connection between them, but he has certainly assumed enough new dimensions that she can see him as a person. (Real world example: at one point Barack Obama was nothing more meaningful to me than a name, until I read his autobiography. There is no personal connection between he and I, but for me he is now more than just a name; he is a person.) But now imagine that in one of the letters she discovered that David is her father, that she belongs to him. It stands to reason that he would then mean a great deal more to her than he ever did. By exploring what David had revealed about himself, for Morgan he went from being an empty proposition to a meaningful person—with whom she could have a relationship, and to whom she meant a lot.

    Now maybe this allegory is too simplistic, perhaps it has some weakness in its relationship to the point I am trying to make here, but just keep in mind that it's being recommended more for its illustrative power than its accuracy. You believe that God created the universe, and that's certainly accurate. However, he did more than just create the universe. He also created you, which is one good reason why you matter "a hill of beans" to this Almighty Creator. You are not some inconsequential accident of nature that barely registers in significance on the scale of the vast cosmos. You are a significant creation of God himself, someone whose significance is such that God went to inexpressible ends in order to claim you through adoption into his family. And I say these things because I am deeply familiar with and convinced by the information God has disclosed about himself to mankind, which is both how and why God is for me more than an analytic proposition. For me, Obama went from being an empty name to a real person because I spent time learning about him from the things he revealed about himself. God went from being a proposition to a significant person the same way; but he came to mean so much more when I discovered that not only do I belong to him but also that he went to profound ends to adopt me as a child into his family.

    So that is my encouragement to you. The more time you spend exploring and genuinely meditating upon the things God has revealed about himself, his character and actions, and how it relates to you as his own purposeful creation, the easier it will become to have that relationship with him which has thus far eluded you. It will often feel more like a 'long distance relationship' than a daily person-to-person relationship but God also explains why things are (for now) this way, with the promise that the day is coming when the distance that sin has wedged between us and God will be done away with, once this final battle has been fought and decisively concluded, and we will once again enjoy the Edenic paradise we are ultimately intended for.

    I also want to point out that a relationship with God is not characterized only by euphoric praising and such. I see that too, in church, with people raising their arms in joyful expressions of awe as they worship. But that is only part of the picture. After church there is the rest of Sunday afternoon and the journey from Monday all the way to Saturday filled with the mundane pressures of this life we live. And you know this, I'm sure. I could be one of those people at your church who looks like they "get it" to you, but you have no idea what I am dealing with in my life or what my Tuesday evening looks like. I guarantee you that there are times where you would look at me and think, "Maybe he doesn't get it either, like me." (Perhaps even more so because, like you, I am rather stoic in the emotional arena. I do feel, but I don't wear it on my sleeve. I exercise a degree of control over my emotions that could be characterized as Vulcan, amplified by my love for logic.)

    And by the way? I am also confident enough to guarantee you that most of those 1,000 people are indeed faking it (i.e., their behavior in church is diametrically inconsistent with their behavior otherwise). It might be politically incorrect to say such things about church people but I've never had much respect for political correctness. In my life, candid honesty takes priority. They won't admit it because there is such a sensitivity for the integrity of faith, but many of those people are indistinguishable from unbelievers the rest of the week—unfamiliar with Scripture, do not know anything about God, can't explain salvation, etc.. I think it's a good thing that you have within you this longing to feel a connection with God, but don't allow yourself to think that they "get it" while you don't. Some of them are in the same boat you're in, and others "get it" even less than you do. Don't feel inferior, defective, or dumb. There is no need to feel weaker leaving the service. I encourage you to pursue this longing you have, but never compare yourself to others because you have no idea if their behavior at church is a product of faith or just a social performance.

    And finally, a relationship with God is not based "soley on emotions and love." A relationship with God is based on a commitment to him. The emotional feeling of love for God comes with time as you get to know him, which is a product of your sanctification, a process that never ends on this side of the resurrection. There were several years between my commitment to God and my love for him. My love for God, and how much I love him, was a work in progress. I did not exit my conversion with love for God. Reverence? Humility? Respect? Yes. But love only came after I got to know him, which took years of spending time genuinely exploring the gospel of his Son Jesus Christ and the ministry of his apostles, sometimes on my own but mostly through the help of others far more mature than I in their knowledge of God and relationship to him.

    If Jesus is God, then he was being mentioned 101 times.

    It is so easy to think of 'God' as being a name and a person distinct from Jesus. It's not. When we are talking about God, that doesn't mean we are failing to talk about Jesus. 'God' is who he is, and 'Jesus' is his name (or the English version of the Greek Iesous).
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2008
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  20. trustgod

    trustgod Regular Member

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    Ryft,

    Thanks for your very eloquent and thought-provoking post. You've illuminated some things and put a few things in a different perspective -- one I hadn't looked at things from before. Yes, after giving it some thought, I would agree with you that my view of God is more of a deistic view rather than one based on Christianity. So, therefore, my challenge is how can I change how I define God (to myself) so that a I can begin to view him as the God of Christianity instead, and on a personal level rather than just an abstract figure "out there."

    The only quible I have with your allegory concerning Obama is that, although you may only know of him and not know him personally, he does exhibit some characteristics that God does not, at least as I see it. Obama may be an abstract figure, where you know of him, but isn't it true that the skeptics among us could easily turn the tv on and see him and hear him speak? That disqualifies him from the abstract and makes him very real. It's not quite an apples to apples comparison. Having said that, however, I do get the main point of your allegory.


    One of the challenges I face is figuring out how to even attempt to do this. Let me ask you this, which may be a rather obtuse question, but I could use the edification. What was it that gave you a perspective of God as a personal God? Can you point to one or two things that convinced you that God was a personal God instead of just an abstract figure?


    Very good points. I'm not sure I get it more than some them, but point well made. I was guilty of taking one data point and extrapolating it out across the rest of their lives. I'm sure there is some social performing going on, but also some real believers who actually do "get it."


    I have been guilty of this many times. I recall a couple concerts I attended, how wonderful they were and the "high" I felt during the shows. But when the emotion fades, I was right back where I started from faith-wise. But, as I understand it, a relationship with God is based on love, which is a purely emotional position, so to those of us like me who are less emotional and much more analytical, it's difficult to seperate the emotional aspect from a relationship.

    So, you've given me some things to ponder, allowing me to begin to see what is on the other side of the river, but I still have no means to cross it, and that's where I remain stuck.
     
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