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Chapter 1. Introduction
At some point in my Christian walk I came to believe that life was not what it seemed to be on the surface. The first “Matrix” movie illustrated this very well. The Bible says it this way: "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." I have spent a lot of effort trying to reconcile how the visible physical world relates to the unseen spiritual world, notably the Christian spiritual world. This booklet is one of those efforts. I feel God has given me some insights into His nature, and since He designed life, the more we understand Him the more we understand life. Hence the name of this booklet: Understanding Life. (See footnote 1 below.)
The Secret of Life (once saved):
Believe every moment of every day that you are who God says you are, based on an ever-growing awareness that God is who He says He is. (I base this on the example of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane where He prayed "...not my will but thine be done..." In other words, by then in His life, He had learned so much about God's nature that He could face the Cross.)
This means that the more we know about who God is, His ways, the less we question His deeds, which often don’t make sense to us. We can trust Him more with the inexplicable things in our life.
The Bible says that the Israelites knew God’s deeds, but Moses knew God’s ways. I feel we sometimes ascribe incorrect motives to God because we don’t understand His ways. For example, I don’t think the lesson of Job is that we are never to question God. I don’t think the parable of the widow who persists with the judge is teaching us that God is waiting until we reach some level of persistence until He acts. Rather I think they teach we are to let Him reveal His ways as we endure trials. Job ends up saying "I had heard of you (God) by the hearing of my ear, but now my eye sees you." In other words, Job ended up with a deeper understanding of God's nature through his trials. I think one of the lessons of Mary and Martha is that while it is good to be trying to do things for God, it is better to “sit at His feet” and learn more of His nature, who He is.
I feel God wants us, like Moses, to know His ways, not just His acts. But unlike Moses, we have the Bible and the Holy Spirit to help us. The veil between us and God has been removed by the blood of Jesus. While we can never understand God in many ways, the fact we are made in His image tells me we can know His ways better than we think. In two places in Psalms, David prays "teach me your ways, O Lord." I hope this booklet will encourage you, too, to pray the same.
In this booklet I have attempted to show how I would take a thought about life or God and pursue it until I had a better understanding of God’s ways. It takes a bit different approach to do this. Instead of reading the Bible for facts, you read the Bible for why God did what He did. We don’t focus on some image we have of “God” in our mind, we focus on His nature. Whatever situations you are facing, God is dealing with you according to His nature, His “personality,” so to speak, much like we deal with situations according to our personality. Just a quick example of how to approach the Bible differently: you hear Christians saying if God would just let them win the lottery, they would use it to bless other people and ministries for the glory of God. So why doesn’t God do that? Why have we not heard (I haven’t) someone on the news give that testimony? Pursue that line of thought until you come up with some answers about God.
Thinking about God’s nature has led me to some interesting places, such as a partial explanation of why God doesn’t always heal when we pray for the sick, and does God only want those in heaven who don’t have the choice to leave?
I hope this booklet also helps you better understand the purpose of your life. The answer you come up with is actually one of the most important things in your life, because it is what will control your thoughts and actions. I have realized that maybe I was approaching this question from my perspective, rather than God’s perspective. God’s main purpose is to get you as close to Him as you will let Him, through Jesus Christ. He sees you relative to how close you are to Him. I jokingly call it “God’s Theory of Relativity.”
Once you realize this, you can make more sense of God’s actions in your life. You see trials and temptations as God’s way of getting you closer to Him. You get your focus off your problems and onto His purpose within those problems. You must forget everything you thought life was about and start seeing what happens to you in light of God’s purpose. The Bible states it like this: Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you. It’s all about seeing things from God’s perspective. You must go from ego-centric to God-centric. Your world must revolve around God and Jesus. It's a paradigm shift of the highest order.
This all ties in with God’s original purpose for creating us: fellowship with Him and showing His glory through what we do through Him. It hasn’t changed. He is still drawing us into relationship with Him.
In a nutshell, this booklet is about understanding God’s nature and hearing His voice. When we do this, we find life has hope and purpose. We understand that the goal of life is not to find out who we are but to find out who God is. We understand that it is not enough to be good, we must be Godly. And that only comes through Jesus.
I have attempted to give the reader some practical tools they can use. I have labelled these places in the booklet with [TOOL].
A sports saying is "You play like you practice." This means an athlete rarely plays in the big game at a higher level than he does in practice. A few maybe, but not many. We sometimes think that in a big crisis we will be able to operate at a higher level of faith than normal. I have personally found this is not true. That is why I strongly encourage the reader to not just read this booklet but to work diligently to seek out for yourself what God wants you to do with what is written herein. Don't wait for the "big game."
footnote 1. I have been hesitant to write this footnote, not wanting to appear to be elevating myself, but I felt I was to do so to help validate what I have written. After I wrote this booklet I ran across how I feel it came into being. Earlier in this chapter, I wrote that I felt God had given me “insights” into His nature. I was reading 1 Corinthians 14:26 in the Darby translation of the Bible (an older translation): “What is it then, brethren? whenever ye come together, each [of you] has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done to edification.” I had never noticed before, but this time I was struck by the word “revelation.” In the Greek the word is “apokalupsis” which means “an unveiling, uncovering, revealing- especially in relation to Christ.” It has the same root used in Revelation 1:1 where it talks about the Revelation of Jesus Christ. I realized that perhaps this booklet is the result of “revelations” from God, via the Holy Spirit, because I had not sat down to deliberately try and write any of them. I looked at the verse in modern translations and some of them instead of “revelation” use “insight,” the very word I used. I felt all this was more confirmation that what I have written in this booklet is from God.
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