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Not getting it

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

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  1. heymikey80

    heymikey80 Quidquid Latine dictum sit, altum viditur

    trustgod, I read the bookends of this thread. At risk of restating something that went before, I think it's appropriate to examine a few things.

    You say that analytically you find Christianity the most plausible. That's very interesting to me, as I followed the same path. I also learned not to trust my own feelings and personhood, because essentially my culture rips personhood limb from limb, and doesn't treat people as human beings, but as power-pieces to be collected. By adulthood I had suppressed my personhood.

    I am deeply involved in scientific inquiry. Science has quite a hard time defining personhood, too. They essentially punt: a "person" exists when a majority of people agree that a "person" exists. People seem pretty capable of recognizing the cues to personal existence, interest, and involvement. But it's tough to put in a bottle and test.

    Christianity deals with God as a Person -- really as more than a person on human terms, we see Him communicated to the human mind as three Persons -- though one God. But let's back down the issue to personhood, as that seems to be the sticking point.

    When you look at the actions of the God of Christianity -- Covenant, Incarnation, Crucifixion, Indwelling, Judgment, Glorification -- most of these only occur when the initiator is a Person. So inasmuch as personhood can be defined and recognized in some objective manner, the Christian God's Personhood is fairly straightforward.

    But then it comes to your personal relationship with Him. You've made the analytic inquiries into whether God exists, and come out in the affirmative. You've examined God's personhood to some extent, and the roads point to yes, He's a person.

    Why's it so important, you being in a personal relationship with God?

    Well, I have a question. Are you relying on the factualness of God's existence to somehow ease your move into the next life? How is knowing God's existence going to help you? "You say there's one God. Great! But even the demons believe that, and shudder."

    God does expect more than a belief about Himself. He expects belief in Himself. Can I use a synonym for "belief" to clarify this? God expects you to rely in Him, personally. Not just rely on facts like His existence. He's said things like "The kingdom of God is like this: relying in Me like a little child." Children don't rely in their parents as caregivers, they don't think objectively about parents bringing home food and sustaining shelter -- though all that's true. Children rely in their parents by relating with them, seeking their approval, enjoying their company, growing as their parents guide them, and loving their parents. It's lots of things. It's a personal relationship though (at least when parental relationships go right).

    That does admittedly mean, you speak out to Him in prayer. If He exists, He's infinite. He can pay attention to His whole finite world all at once. Even to you.

    And if you rely in Him, personally, you'll want to know how He wants your life to go. You'll tell Him about the things that your life is going through -- with every expectation that He is responding to them. Why tell Him? It's meant to make you aware that He matters to these decisions in your life. Of course He already knows about your concerns (and the Apostles already pointed this out, btw). But you have to know He knows. Why? Because otherwise, you go through life thinking you don't matter to Him. You go through life thinking He's not aware of your problems, or really doesn't care about them. You go through life concluding God's not personally involved in your life. When He is.

    So prayer does not start out as a result of your personal relationship with God. Prayer actually reinforces and grows your personal relationship with Him. And that's why it feels so strange at first.

    For me, God caused the tiniest thing to occur early on in my life with Him to acknowledge He was there. It only happened once, and to be sure it so convinced me that I was scared to ask Him again. I don't know who He decides to do that with, but it's also worth a try. And I'll tell you, alone even a small miracle isn't enough to keep you aware of God. It takes constant input from other people for me to feel confirmed -- not apologetics, not Bible exegesis will help here -- to recognize He's involved in my life.

    Another resource that has helped me immensely is a book, "Love Walked Among Us". It's not built to teach you apologetics. But it'll open your eyes to the kinds of personal, relational things God was about when He walked among us. The sample chapters may help you see if this book is for you.

    (I'm not affiliated with this ministry in any way other than buying its books.)

    At this season when we celebrate the time when God came down to be with us, Personally, I hope this can help in some small way.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2008
  2. Jeremiah Land

    Jeremiah Land Newbie

    If I may, I'd just like to take a second to thank everyone for this thread. Ryft, heymikey80, and GreenMunchkin in particular have written some wonderfully helpful posts here, but I can't think of a single response which didn't have its heart in the right place and contribute something to this conversation, so thank you everyone. I essentially joined this forum because I struggle with this exact same issue (although I break with the OP on the level of desire/need for a personal connection with God), but I was unsure about how to go about finding answers for these questions, so imagine my surprise to find an intelligent, articulate thread discussing these very questions I couldn't find the voice to air.

    Of course, overcoming this feeling of 'emotional disconnect' from God is a difficult thing to do, but this thread has given me a lot to think about. So, without hijacking this thread with my own doubts and struggles, I'd just like to say thanks. This message board can be a bit overwhelming, and I was a bit unsure of what to think at first, but I definitely feel like I've come to the right place to learn more and grow in my faith.

    Thanks again and Merry Christmas everyone :wave:
  3. [serious]

    [serious] 'As we treat the least of our brothers...' RIP GA Supporter

    As I understand it, the idea of a personal relationship is a fairly new aspect of christian thinking (popped up in the 1800s). I don't know of anywhere we are commanded to have a personal relationship, belief and obedience yes, but not personal relationship. I wouldn't worry too much about it.
  4. trustgod

    trustgod Regular Member

    Um, well, the person I trust the most right now is myself. There are very very few people I feel I COULD put my trust in other than myself. What led you to not to trust yourself? What culture do you speak of that rips people limb from limb? I assume you're speaking figuratively, but it wasn't clear. That sounds like a culture I'd try to escape as fast as I could.

    Without a "personal relationship" with God, isn't it just an analytical understanding? Like, I understand how a car engine works, but I have no relationship with a car engine (not the best analogy -- don't rip me for it). Doesn't Christianity teach that we are to love others and God? Doesn't love imply some sort of relationship? You've confused me with your question, I'm afraid. Do you think a personal relationship is superfluous to having faith?

    No, I'm not relyingon the factualness of god to ease myself into the next anything. It just means I don't reject the concept of a god. If we're speaking of the God of Christianity, then knowing of his existence is essential to anyone's faith, isn't it? I mean, Santa is make-believe, and I really don't have much faith in him. Same sort of applies to God, from my perspective at least. Why would I have faith in a fictual person?

    I wasn't aware that obedience and belief were commandments. Sounds more like legalism to me. Again, as I understand it and have had pounded into my head by (bad) pastor's, a relationship with God is the epicenter of belief, if I'm not mistaken.
  5. Celticflower

    Celticflower charity crocheter

    While I was away I had a bit of time to think about this thread. And I think that sometimes people only believe with their head until something happens to drive that belief into the heart. As long as you do believe with your head, it doesn't matter if you don't feel like you get it. Maybe it just isn't your time yet.
  6. ephraimanesti

    ephraimanesti Senior Veteran

    Eastern Orthodox
    . . . . which is perhaps why we tend to be much closer to God during crises than when things are going smoothly.

  7. Celticflower

    Celticflower charity crocheter

    Yes, but I was thinking more in terms of a John Wesley type of thing. He had "head faith" for years, but it wasn't until the experience at Aldersgate that he developed "heart faith".
  8. JohnDB

    JohnDB Regular Member

    Well, The Lord's Prayer when deciphered in the original language doesn't have the same connotation as it does in English.

    Our Daddy, who is in Heaven...

    Daddy being like what you call your own father...
    Jesus also calls us "friends"...(also stated in John)
    And again in Hebrews it talks about the fact that we have a "friend" at the top of the religious heap who knows about each and every one of our struggles because He went through them too...no silver spoon in his mouth...

    All of this is about a personal relationship...which is already there...It is as it was in the beginning...a bunch of guys...nobodies really...hanging out listening and talking with Jesus like a normal person...Yes, Jesus is in charge...but still one of us all at the same time.
  9. heymikey80

    heymikey80 Quidquid Latine dictum sit, altum viditur

    That's a good point. The person you trust the most is yourself. But there's a problem there -- you know you personally don't have the capacity to determine much of the truth. To conclude things facts, you rely on information from other people. What about truth you don't have access to?

    And what about life you don't have access to? We both know neither of us has access to these things, in and of ourselves. Alone we'll die.

    We have to rely on other facts, or someone else, if there is any hope of gaining access to them. And these are two different things, I expect you've gathered that based on what you say next.
    Yes. Good. The relationship itself is one of love, reliance, and hope on our side; and love, reliability, and grace on God's side.

    According to John (1 John 1:1-4) much of this relationship grows on the realization that the God of eternity came to us physically, in history.
    I think you've distinguished well between relying on facts -- somehow "operating the machinery" based on those facts, versus relying on a person and entrusting yourself into that person's care.
    Point taken, as of course knowing the existence of a car doesn't mean you're a driver.

    I'd agree with you that learning more about the transcendence of God and His existence won't get you much closer to a relationship with Him. But the humanity and personal involvement of God the Son may well help with that feeling of smallness before a transcendent God. God's also the One Who's favoring you, Who came to earth in adverse times and circumstances for you, Who died for you.
  10. jellybean99

    jellybean99 Make me an instrument of Peace and Safety

    You have more faith than you know, friend--at least you believe there is a God. That's more than most.

    Given your predisposition to logic and analysis, I have included an answer to a question you might have asked yourself or will ask yourself at some point, as every seeker does. You will also find a point by point explanation of the Christian faith.

    The situation that I speak is often called "The Problem of Evil." It poses the question, "How can there be evil in a world created by a omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent God?" Many great (and not-so-great) thinkers have wrestled with this question. Proposed solutions to this apparent paradox are called "Theodicies." Check it out.

    FYI: The attributions of omnipotence, omniscience and benevolence come from Classic Greek philosophy, and are believed to describe the ultimate deity in terms of power, knowledge and virtue.

    "Good" comes from the Hebrew TOVE (rhymes with grove) and refers to the quality and desirability of someone or some deed. This can refer to morals, character, strength, purity, etc. "Bad," RRA (rhymes with bra) is used to describe entities and deeds of inferior quality and desirability and are seen as wicked and/or disagreeable in YHWH's eyes.

    To answer the question, " How does one determine that God is "good?" in context is very much like asking, "How does one determine the color white?"

    I could show you a piece of paper that is white in appearance, but would appear to be more eggshell when compared to a "whiter" sheet of paper. God is absolutely good--perfect & complete in every way, while everyone and everything else is RRA in comparison. To sin, kah-TAH, literally means to miss the mark, as in to fall short of goodness. In its extreme, RRA means wicked, evil and/or catastrophic.

    When the serpent entered the Garden of Eden, he showed Eve the fruit of the tree which contained the knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve only knew of goodness before this incident. The serpent tricked Eve into eating the fruit, which was good, by doing something evil (wicked & disagreeable to God).

    Once she and Adam ate of this fruit, wickedness entered creation making it RAA (corrupt, of inferior quality) and doomed the universe to eventually perish (like rotting fruit). Adam and Eve's evil deed separated the human race and our universe from God's goodness and also left humanity with an imperfect (inferior) sense of morals (right and wrong, good and evil, etc.).

    It is only when one appears before God that one truly knows what is "good." While God the Father is not immediately available to this wicked world (He cannot look upon evil nor can we look directly at Him w/o perishing in our wickedness), His son Jesus can be made available to us if we seek Him out and He is willing. Prayer, Scripture reading and approaching Christ's witnesses on Earth are ways of seeking Christ, the anointed one.

    To behold Christ is to realize "goodness." From there confession (agreement with God regarding our missing the mark), repentance (turning from one's wicked path) and atonement (by faithfully accepting the Pardon offered by Christ's perfect sacrifice) becomes possible. Worship (responding to God's glory), praise (responding to God's attributes), thanks (responding to God's blessings), petition (asking for God's treasure) and intercession (asking for God's action) are also available to those who appeal to God's goodness in prayer. Jesus Christ is the "High Priest" who hears our confessions so that we, having our goodness restored by the Holy Spirit, may approach God the Father or God the Son without fear of perishing. Continued fellowship with God requires regular prayer--the Holy Spirit only goes as deep as our confessions to Christ.

    A Christian's fiery trials and tribulations are God's way of purifying our character (making it more and good and less evil), though we are all "works in progress" that do not realize perfection in this lifetime.

    I trust that this post helps you to "get it," though reading this may prompt more questions and prayer. I pray that the light of Christ may shine on all who read this so that they may see it and faithfully turn to Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
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