Archive for June, 2011

“But miracles are impossible!”

June 29, 2011

One of the interesting challenges in our modern world is the remarkable skepticism towards miracles. It can make trying to argue in favor of Christianity very difficult when someone dismisses the possibility of Christ’s resurrection as flatly impossible.

It’s important to realize what is truly behind the objection before you attempt to present more evidence, or otherwise argue for miracles really happening. Simply stated, many people believe that there is either no God, or that He does not or cannot interfere with events in the world. The unfortunate part is that many Christians hold this belief, stating things like, “He used to perform miracles, but doesn’t any more.”

It’s important to understand that you and the person you are trying to reach have fundamentally different assumptions. You accept the reality of God, the deity of Christ, and numerous miracles that have been performed over centuries. A non-believer frequently believes there is no God, which means violations of the natural order are inherently impossible, or in a passive God who will never choose to violate that order.

To have a meaningful discussion about Christianity, it is important to have both people acknowledge the possibility of an active God. Perhaps the person you’re talking with hasn’t noticed a miracle because it was small and not flashy. Perhaps no miracles have occurred around that person at all. Regardless, if you can’t agree to the possibility of miracles, then any evidence you present for Christianity will be dismissed out of hand.

Imagine trying to win a court case where you aren’t allowed to present any evidence, present any witnesses, or cross-examine any of the opposition’s witnesses. Could you ever win in such a situation? Only if the opposing side tanked their own case, which isn’t likely.

There is, of course, one other possibility. Ask God to perform a miracle for this person. It may be knowledge, healing, or something else. If you are willing to be an agent of the miraculous for God, then you are in a position to be used by God to directly reveal His reality.

“God wants me to be happy!”

June 27, 2011

I recently encountered a woman who’s sole goal in life was to be happy. She was looking for a religion that would confirm this desire in her, and had decided Christianity wasn’t it. The funny thing is she was ethnically Jewish.

While reading Exodus 5 this morning, I got what is probably the strongest confirmation that this simply isn’t God’s desire. He does not seek our immediate and perpetual happiness. He seeks his will to be done.

In Exodus 5, Moses has just met up with Aaron after meeting God in the burning bush. He returns to Egypt and asks Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to take three days off from working to go worship God. If God’s goal was for our immediate happiness, Pharaoh would have done something like acquiesce to the request and go on. then Moses would be praised as a great prophet and the Israelites would have gotten a short holiday from their crushing labors.

What actually happened was Pharaoh’s pride got pricked, and he decided to punish the Israelites for being “lazy”. He took away the straw for their bricks and demanded the find the straw themselves. Moses was now despised by the people he had been sent to help.

Moses was now, I’m sure, anything but happy. He had, however, done exactly what God told him to do. As we all know, God would send ten plagues on Egypt to force Pharaoh to drive out the Israelites. The goal was not a short holiday, but their freedom.

We need to stop indulging this idea that God wants us to be running around in a constant state of bliss. It is simply not Biblical, and we do a disservice if we let anyone think this is how things will be. Some people get a period of happiness and ease right after they are saved, but it tends to be a horrible shock and discouragement when something goes wrong again. Jesus said his followers would be hated. James spoke eloquently about how hard times mature us.

Finally, if you have ever experienced God’s peace, then you know it is very different from happiness. God’s peace will let you remain confident as you follow him, even as everything seems to fall apart around you. It lets you bless those who are cursing you, because you see past their hurtful words to the need that inspired them. It gives you endurance when others would give up.

Don’t spend all your time looking for happiness. It’s a transitory emotion driven by circumstances. Look for peace. That is God’s gift, and it lasts.