Sunday, September 23, 2007

Awestruck- or thoughts from the morning sermon

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3 NIV SB

Our job as Christians is to be awestruck, and sometimes I forget that. I had a rather marvelous conversion at the ripe old age of nineteen. I had learned much from my world and was very analytical for a nineteen year old. Somehow I had never connected much in my life to the numinous, though in early childhood I do have memories of dealing with spiritual issues on a childhood level (isn’t that the way Jesus commands us to come, as children?) in praying for sick animals and people.
Nonetheless it was a profound change in the way of appreciating the world about me that took place, and I had moments where I even feared for my sanity. Some might point out that that fear was righteously place (isn’t there another place in scripture that says the wisdom of God is as foolishness before men?). To see spiritual forces around me was both dismaying and exciting at the same time; dismaying because I saw them as unverifiable, exciting because I saw them as true.
My analytical nature soon tried to classify and present that remarkable discovery of truth to my immediate friends, none of whom were themselves believers. I tried through reason, to no avail, to present that which had so profoundly and dynamically changed my life.
I was more awestruck than many new believers, I think, because a deadness was creeping over my soul rather early with the modern American belief that what you see is what you get. Analytically that appealed to my nature, and the occasional friend I had who still went to church I would challenge on an analytical basis until I found that they appeared to have no rational reason why they believed, they appeared uncertain as to what they believed, and, in some cases, appeared to be believing out of fear of hell rather than conviction of reason.
After my conversion, apologetics appealed to my analytical nature, and I developed many strengths in arguing persuasively for Christ. In my thirty six years since then I have seen scores of people come to Christ, but I freely admit none have been persuaded through apologetics. I have come to see apologetics as merely the entrance argument to open the eyes of the willing skeptic so that the true testimony can take over.
I am convinced that people are not rational creatures. Has not one of the chief skeptics of the modern age, Bertrand Russell, said: “It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.” People can have a semblance of rationality which is always over-ridden by their emotional core. Hence the topic of this essay: being awestruck.
Ephesians points out that God has presently blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. In my better moments I know this; there are days and sometimes weeks going by where I feel both close to and presently blessed by Christ. I am awestruck. If I am to convince my neighbor of the reality of unseen things, then I need to regularly affirm the way in which He makes me awestruck.
I think the best way to approach people is through what Christ does to us in our emotional department. This is exactly contrary to the Four Spiritual Laws, which always rated facts as the engine, faith as the coal car, and feeling as the caboose. I think that even Bill Bright was a bit taken with the American myth that what you see is what you get. In thinking this through though, I do wonder if perhaps it is a mark of our post modernism age that causes this shift to emotion. I do think modern man tends to say that facts are different things to different people and thus impossible to ascertain (relativism).

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