Monday, January 09, 2012

Believing That He Is

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:06, NKJV).

In the Western world, for generations, families have gone to great lengths to convince children to believe in all kinds of myths, like King Arthur, Merlin, Magic, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Christmas Elves, the Easter Bunny, Evolution and the Tooth Fairy.

The primary danger in this is that when the inevitable awakening to the truth occurs, and these cherished beliefs are determined to be false, the child learns to equate all such believing in things not seen as equivalently false, and the integrity and truthfulness of the caregivers in the family are rightly called into question.

As quaint traditions to enliven Holidays and family get-togethers, or to celebrate rites of passage or exercise the imagination, these myths, if presented as myths, can either be benign or serve a greater purpose as a contrast to Biblical reality, but there is a grave peril in teaching children to falsely believe something that isn't true.

It can inoculate them against faith, poisoning the well of what C.S. Lewis has termed, Mere Christianity. Recall this ancient text:

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, (1 Peter 1:6-8, NKJV).

Children have an inherent ability for faith. It's built-in, part of their original equipment. Don't be fooled into thinking this innate ability is something evolution magically concocted to enhance survival. From the physical perspective, belief itself has very little survival value.

In fact, the young of all "higher" species get by pretty well without the ability to believe things that cannot be seen, for as far as we know, human children, constructed in the image of God, are the only ones who are born with the capability to perceive 3-dimensional reality and superimpose on it another qualitatively different reality. Call it what you will - the Spiritual Realm, the Supernatural, the World of the Imagination - its only earthly pioneers and explorers are human.

And human children are its most stalwart adventurers. That is part of the reason Jesus tells us that unless we become like little children we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Now, entering the Kingdom of Heaven is synonymous with coming to God. To do either, you must first believe that He is, and further, that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

According to the latest global surveys, more than 75% of the world's adult population believe in some Higher Power or Supreme Being. But that percentage is shrinking yearly, especially in Europe. Indeed, some countries, Denmark and Sweden, for instance, boast that between 46% and 80% of its residents are either agnostic or atheistic.

What is surprising, however, is that the percentage of belief in God remains so high, given the almost constant barrage of negativity in the world's news, opinion, higher education and entertainment media regarding religion. 

This persistence of belief is intensely frustrating to the increasingly aggressive proponents of humanism. But these men and women willfully forget that arrayed against the Ivy League, New York, Hollywood, Europe and all the other realms of worldly humanistic propaganda and intellectual elitism, is the God of the Bible. 

The God who is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. The God who has bridged the gap between Fallen man and holy Creator by declaring that faith in His Risen Son will achieve what no amount of human performance can achieve - access to His throne of grace. 

He can, and does, ensure that the avenue of faith remains open. At least for now.

Coming to God entails believing that He is, even in the face of propaganda and popular opinion to the contrary. Or more precisely, especially in the face of such global misinformation, for that makes the exercise of faith that much more significant.

Further it entails believing, as a necessary subsequent step, that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Why else come to Him in the first place?

But what does diligent seeking involve, exactly? 

Most importantly it means seeking Him as He has revealed Himself to be in His Word. Who knows what God the 75-percenters believe in? Is it the God of the Bible, or the God of their own vain and futile imaginings?

You cannot diligently seek Someone of whom you have no clue or information.

Fortunately - providentially - He has left us with all the clues we need, written down and preserved for millennia so that His light shines in the darkness, illuminating the path to His throne, His grace, and Himself.

Our task is to find and follow that roadmap, something He empowers and assists us to do if only we ask.

If you seek Him with your whole heart, mind and soul, He will be found. He guarantees it.

And He will reward your diligence in ways impossible to anticipate or comprehend, both in this life and in the life to come.

First you will get God Himself, as inconceivable as that may sound, for that is exactly what He promised Abraham so long ago.

And in getting Him you will get everything else, for …as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9, NKJV).