Monday, November 7, 2011

Worship God

CJ gave me permission to share his worldview paper from our Starting Points class. I really appreciate the way he is wrestling with these foundational issues and the way he expresses his thoughts!

Worship God - My Personal Worldview: 
What is my personal worldview? My “mental model of the world or subjective representation of external reality”?[1]  To answer that question, I must explore the core and foundation of my personal beliefs, those presuppositions that determine my understanding of and outlook on life. At the center of my being, I find one all-encompassing truth: God. This comes as no surprise since I believe that my very nature, as that of all humanity, is created in the image of God. (Gen 1:27)[2] My belief in Him forms the ultimate cornerstone upon which all else hinges: the nature of the universe, the nature of man, the basis of morality, the cause of evil and suffering, life after death and the meaning of history.  In fact, at the center of each and every one of our worldviews lurks some sort of god: money, fame, the universe, an impersonal “Force,” a supernatural being or even ourselves. We may not call them gods, but they fulfill that purpose as the supreme, determining factor for our meaning in life.

Who is the God that I worship? He calls himself Yahweh, I Am Who I Am. (Ex 3:14) He created the world; “through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” (Jn 1:3) Since He authored everything, nothing can limit Him. He exists forever, unbound by time or space. The Bible displays Him as infinitely glorious, “'To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?' says the Holy One.” (Is 40:25) Truly, we wonder with David, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” (Ps 8:4) Our minds become completely blown away when we realize that the Creator of the universe has revealed himself to us personally. As a completely holy and just God, He cannot tolerate the slightest evil. Yet He also shows us an unfathomable mercy, displaying a “love that surpasses knowledge.” (Eph 3:19) We clearly see this dual-nature of His character in Isaiah 57:15, “For this is what the high and lofty One says – He who lives forever, whose name is holy: 'I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit.'” God is both infinite, more than anything we could imagine in our wildest dreams, and personal, giving us the privilege to be called His children.

We see both God's infinite power and His personal love expressed in creation. “For he spoke, and it came to be.” (Ps 33:9) By His word, the heavens and earth came into existence. He made the universe for one supreme purpose, to reveal His glory. “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Rev 4:11) We see His fingerprints all over creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Ps 19:1) God did not create a chaotic or meaningless world nor did He make it permanent. His commands, which we interpret as natural laws, hold the universe in place. Because of our belief in a finely-tuned and orderly universe, we pursue the study of science to discover the intricate beauty of His creation. However, we do not fall prey to the common deception that only that which can be seen constitutes reality. Just as we know that the universe was created out of nothing for God's glory, so we also believe that one day the universe as we know it will be returned to nothing also for His glory. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor 4:18)

God made only one of His works in his very own likeness, man. He epitomized in man the contrast between the seen and unseen worlds, for He both formed him from the dust of the ground (composing man's physical body) and also breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (the basis of what we call man's soul and spirit).  Because of Adam's fall however, man not only experienced physical death but more significantly suffered spiritual death. He no longer enjoyed the intimate fellowship with God that existed in the Garden of Eden. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins... like the rest we were by nature objects of wrath.” (Eph 2:1,3) The Bible expresses the universal nature of sin and its subsequent punishment in the well-known verses, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death.” (Rom 6:23a) Yet the story did not end there, for the same verse goes on to say, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Paul further explained the relationship between spiritual death and redemption, “Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.” (Rom 5:18) Thus God did not leave man to his fate of spiritual death in sin but rather by His grace, through the sacrifice of His son, gave man a second chance to “participate in the divine nature.” (2 Pe 1:4)

What does it mean to “participate in the divine nature”? The apostle John gave us significant insight when he said that “whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did”. (I Jn 2:6) Our ability to live in accordance to God's commands, and in essence model our lives after His own, constitutes one of the most important aspects of salvation. God's commands, which are a reflection of His own character, provide the universal distinction between right and wrong. In our present world, where people more than ever  revel in their own self-proclaimed right to define morality, we must hold strong to this inexorable conviction: Absolute truth exists! Those who proudly reject absolute morality will lose their now confident assurance when they bow before the judgment seat of God. In fact, we know that relative morality can not claim complete accuracy, since if all people could define morality on an individual basis, that would in and of itself comprise an absolute moral. If we accept the existence of a higher law for human ethics, then it becomes critical for us to discover and live according to its decrees. Can there be a more perfect law than that ordained by our holy Creator recorded for us in His Word? His very nature is our definition of good, and because of our fallen sinful nature, it is only through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us that we have the desire and ability to live up to His law code, the basis for absolute morality.

The rampant suffering we see in our world today directly results from man's disobedience of God. Though neither sin nor suffering originated with God, since the very definition of sin consists of a violation of God's nature, He not only allows it to take place but also inflicts punishment on the world as a result. Many people cite sin as a reason to doubt God's all-good and all-powerful nature; why didn't He stop sin from entering the world in the first place? As a believer, I trust God's Word fully and do not doubt His character, yet I also do not possess a completely satisfying answer to this question. I must accept that certain aspects of life will be mysteries for us for which we must wait until heaven to completely understand. I do know that His will is best, that He created man with a natural inclination towards good and that temptation came in the form of an outside force, namely Satan. However, man's own volitional disobedience must accept the blame for the propagation of evil and the consequent death it brought. Some people act as if God could stop sin in our world today with a simple snap of His fingers, ignoring centuries of atrocity. Such a view fails to recognize the absolute holiness of God, for He can only deal with sin in light of His justice. We do know that one day God will judge the world, just as He destroyed the world of Noah's time through the Flood. However, “the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Pe 3:9)

The question of a future life after death has intrigued the minds of men ever since creation. Man's answer to this extremely consequential question shapes his purpose in life more than that of any other. His understanding of the hereafter creates obvious ramifications for the meaning of his present life. The Biblical depiction of the afterlife revolves around the concept of judgment and consequent eternal destinations. Jesus referred to that great splitting of the nations as the division of the sheep and goats. (Mt 25:31-46) All men will stand before the throne of God and be “judged according to what they had done”. (Rev 20:12) All who find their names recorded in the Book of Life will dwell with God forever in heaven. “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev 21:3-4) However, the picture is less promising for those who do not find their names in the Book of Life. Unbelievers will be thrown into hell or the lake of fire, eternally separated from the presence of God. There they will suffer forever in the blackest darkness, where there will be much “weeping and gnashing of teeth”. (Mt 8:12) Either way, eternal consequences lie in wait for all humanity.

The future, past and present all point to God, as we see that all of history proclaims His story. The entirety of history, both the visible and invisible portions, can be described as a meaningful sequence of events held firmly in God's hands. We can view history most significantly through the eyes of a transcendent spiritual warfare between God and Satan affecting mankind collectively and individually.  As Christians we know that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:12) This unseen battle between the forces of good and evil provides the sublime canvas upon which the history of our world is drawn. One day, the two sides will compete in an ultimate showdown for “either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives”[3] Unfortunately for Satan the outcome has already been determined, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Cor 15:54) Though the Bible calls Satan the “god of this age” (2 Cor 4:4), we know that one day Jesus will come in glorious power and completely defeat all the armies of evil. How will He achieve this? First we know that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”. (Mt 24:14) In the end times described in Revelation, antichrists, beasts and false prophets will arise on the earth to blaspheme God. During this culmination of evil, God will pour out His wrath and punishment through natural disasters, famine, plagues, war and many other horrible kinds of suffering. At the end of this time of tribulation the dead will be judged, some descending to the lake of fire and others dwelling forever with God in “a new heaven and a new earth”. (Rev 21:1)

In conclusion, one truth permeates my entire worldview, providing the answer to every question, under-girding all of the philosophical assumptions: God. Yet, not the pure, abstract existence of God, rather, my personal interaction with Him and His supreme influence on my life forms the focal point or starting point of my worldview. One word sums up this relationship with God: Worship. Worship is the only appropriate response that we can give to the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”. (Rev 19:16) Scripture from beginning to end points to our worship and praise of God. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, worship will abide forever. Worship is the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is ultimate, because God is ultimate.[4] He is the Alpha and Omega of my worldview, giving meaning to the past, purpose to the present and hope for the future.


[1]    Alvin Toffler, Future Shock (New York: Bantam, 1971), p.155
[2]    All Scripture references and quotations are taken from the New International Version (NIV), (International Bible Society, 1984)
[3]    J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, p.841
[4]    Last 3 sentences paraphrased from John Piper's, Let the Nations Be Glad, (Baker Books, 1996), p.11

2 comments:

  1. Wonderful paper, CJ!So proud of you! The Lord is working in your life and has great plans for you! Keep wrestling, growing, asking those questions. He will answer. We miss you guys!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jenn, Thanks for your comment! I showed it to CJ. We miss your family too. Glad you're getting some time to retreat :)

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...