A Good Place to Start
Along my journey of faith I have wrestled with many things and there are a few foundational principles that I have to remember as I dig into the tough questions of God and life.
It Can’t Start with Me
Like Renes Descartes, I would like to have everything be provable without any room for doubt. Unfortunately, the biggest things in our universe go beyond what we can fully comprehend which leaves us in the place where we either manipulate the facts and ideas to fit into our current perspective, or we accept that some things are beyond our understanding. Whenever we compromise reality by forcing it to fit into our current worldview, we corrupt it. Whenever we start our understanding of the universe and God with ourselves, we corrupt and limit them. We need to start with the facts and let them change how we see things. I need to start with God and let Him change me and my worldview.
False Gods are Everywhere
It seems like every celebrity and every new product claims that they are the greatest of all time. This car will provide you with the greatest adventures. This nose hair trimmer will give you the greatest appearance. This food box will help you get in the greatest shape. This football player will make the greatest play. This musician will make the greatest music. But the reality is that though they may be high quality, they will always fail. They will fail to satisfy the main issues you hope they will solve. Success, purpose, freedom, community and value will all collapse when based on these products and people. They always disappoint. I can’t depend on them. That makes them false gods.
Outside the Truth, Nothing has Value
I think works of fiction can express a lot of really great things and using our imaginations is a lot of fun, but if the principles and ideas that are expressed in those things aren’t true, they aren’t anything that I can hold to or stand on. Many of us have spent significant amounts of time, energy and money on creating fictional personas and characteristics in an attempt to control others or draw them in, but given a strong push they start to crumble and the relationships and positions that were built on them begin to collapse. Only what is true can hold weight and stand firm when tested. If it isn’t true, it will fall apart. Testing will reveal whether something is true or not, and if it isn’t true, it may be fun, but it isn’t worth standing on.
Walls Keep You Safe, but Lonely
For years walls were what I built. They kept me well protected from attacks, criticisms and arguments. They made sure that I was able to go through my life without being controlled or manipulated by other people, and sometimes even gave me the upper hand in dealing with them. Unfortunately they also made it nearly impossible to have friends or real relationships. No one was allowed in because they could cause harm. This left me alone and unable to grow. Worst of all, it kept me from being able to actually help anyone else. Hiding behind walls kept everyone out, and kept any good I had to offer trapped inside. I was terrified to be vulnerable, but it turns out vulnerability was essential.
As I explore questions about life and God, I start with these ideas because they ensure that I’m starting in the right spot. Once these are established I can continue my journey with the assurance that I do not journey alone.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6
Next: Part 2 – Boxes
Evan Oxner is the author of Let’s Be Blunt : What’s Really the Point of Christianity? and the lead pastor at Amherst Wesleyan Church in Amherst, Nova Scotia. He insightfully explores these questions about God and life in much more detail in Let’s Be Blunt. You can check it out along with more about him at www.evanoxner.wordpress.com.