Posted in Christianity

It is NOT, in fact, all Relative

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“How do we know what is true?” the speaker at a workshop I recently attended asked the participants.  She wanted us to say that we “feel” what is true. I know that because when I answered “because the Bible tells me so,” she didn’t like my response one iota.

Not wanting to shanghai the workshop by launching into a debate on relativism, I let it slide. We thankfully moved on to unrelated topics, and I was able to let this question about truth ruminate in my brain over the next few days.

Ravi Zacharias, a profound speaker on Christian topics, would explain the pitfalls of a relativistic outlook in this way: Because relativism by it’s very nature denies the existence of an absolute truth, it is a failed system before it has even begun.

How do you explain what is good without having an ultimate good to which to compare? In the very act of trying to define truth individualistically, people can only make meaning by finding their way to an unwavering Power they are consciously doing their best to deny.

The human heart is absolutely incapable of always doing good or even consistently knowing what good is without reaching for an absolute groundwork that is unwavering. This absolute does not have exceptions to its rules.  It does not allow for human happiness above the need for right over wrong. It operates from a place of love tempered by a spiritual perspective that is beyond the ability of the human mind to fully comprehend. We are designed to know when the rules are in alignment with the truth of His Word, but we do not get to decide which parts of His Word we will choose to attend to or ignore.

If it feels good, then it must be good. No story in the Bible is more designed to prove the fallacy of this concept than the story of King David, a man after God’s own heart. Even though he spent the bulk of his life pursuing God’s Will, acknowledging God’s goodness and superiority in his life, and actively making choices that would please God, even David’s heart for God managed to stray from the straight and narrow path of truth as David knew it from his own study of the Hebrew traditions.

David knew absolutes. He loved God so much that when Saul stumbled into the cave where David and his men were hiding, the fugitive youth refused to harm a hair on his King’s head because any harm done to Saul, who had been crowned by God, would be an offense against the Creator.

When David turned from the reality of God’s truths, it was relativism that made David give in to the lusts of his heart and steal another man’s wife. It caused him to underhandedly try to cover up his adultery by lying to the man he had cuckolded, and then, when that strategy failed, to actually have the man killed in battle. When David turned away from God’s truths to lean on his own understanding instead, he set forth a series of events that would cause his family to suffer for generations.

Relativism made David’s son Absalom convince himself he deserved his father’s throne so that Absalom slaughtered his other brothers and launched a nearly successful coup of his father’s otherwise powerful reign. In a world where God died to make it possible to wash away my sin, I am convinced He does not make bad things happen in order to punish us. But, I do believe He makes no promises to save us from the consequences of our own actions, only the promise to hold our hand while we suffer them.

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Relativism is easy on the surface. Live and let live leaves lots of time to seek what pleases, especially since standards based on happiness are really no standards at all. Its proponents don’t have to deal with any harsh reality because they make truth a liquid that moves with their own whims and wishes.

But God, who rules this universe He created, doesn’t operate on a platform of fluctuation. He is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the definition of an absolute, and His laws, natural, spiritual, and moral, are the ultimate movers and shakers of reality, no matter what social media or television dramas want us to think otherwise.

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that God praises David and yet also graphically displays David’s humanness in order to prove to us that no person is capable of following God merely by “trusting his gut.” We know what is right and wrong not because of the “god” in us as so many Eastern philosophies would have us believe, but because we spend time in His Word and in relationship with His Holy Spirit in full knowledge of our dependence on Him for all things that are real and good.

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Sometimes, we love best when we are willing to stand in the truth of God’s Word, no matter if the world wants to mock and ridicule us for our belief in His absolutes. Often, doing right only feels good after the fact, when we can go to God in thankfulness that He helped us stay on the straight and narrow path. Sometimes, doing right, like sticking with a marriage to which you made a holy vow, can bring a whole lot of sorrow and pain before you round the curve back to the light. But always, when we follow God’s absolutes, we can walk forward in confidence knowing that God loves those who cling to His truth and seek His understanding rather than being guided by our ever-deceitful hearts.

Black and white is not just an old-fashioned television era when moms stayed home cooking and cleaning and the worst trouble their kids managed to wrangle was a broken window from a stray baseball.  Seek God’s truth, which is absolute, and you will ultimately grow into the person His master plan longs for you to be.

You are a key player in God’s ultimate picture for this life and the next. I didn’t say it. Christ’s broken, innocent body on a cross on Calvary did, where love and mercy, justice and forgiveness came together to save us all.

Absolutely.

 

Posted in Poetry, Writing

National Poetry Writing Month #30

On Endings

For the final day of National Poetry Writing Month

Being neither Whitman nor Frost,
we have come anyway,
to this place of words,
to this gathering of minds
brought to us by a digital world
that even cummings’ imagination
did not lay onto an altered page.

Equalized by these aughts and ones
that string together like DNA,
this man-made code that awes us,
leads us, Babel-like, too close
to the throne of God,

we are drawn to the light
of our touchable screens
like moths yet to be burned,
seeking connection or truth,
the litany of an age long since
numb to what it knows

of blood and tears and war,
forever proving the depths
to which a species given choice
will fall.  We rise

to forgiveness with humbled hearts,
kept honest by our love of words,
and the peace of a yoke
laid upon us by a God
willing to die.

 

Ramona Levacy
April 30, 2013

Thanks for joining me on this journey of 30 days straight of poetry writing.  Congratulations to everyone who took up the challenge!  May we poets continue to grow in number and the love of a well-turned phrase never die.

Posted in Uncategorized

National Poetry Writing Month #6

So, what is truth?

In this age, where all we know
changes–Pluto is no planet,
and even snowflakes have doubles–
what makes truth wavers,
turning grey what once seemed
as solid as the rich soil
where all cornerstones were founded.

Born to a world that is new every morning,
we humans lack patience, search for sameness
in the dark corners of each day
where the silence of what is to come
makes our skin crawl.

This chaos makes us humble,
keeps our chests from exploding
from our height on the food chain.
On our knees, in the safest moments
of our reality, we will know truth,

remembering the words of the One,
the Master Designer, He whose comfort
knows no limits, who lights all dark places,
in whose arms Truth finds home.

Ramona Levacy
April 6, 2013

Posted in Christian Living, Faith

Verses I’m Thankful I’ve Read

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In Second Chronicles, Chapter 34, we are reminded in a not so subtle way how grateful we should be to have the Word of God so readily available to us. It is 622 B.C. During repairs to the temple, the priest Hilkiah finds the Book of the Law. Scholars apparently debate whether this book, likely Deuteronomy, had actually been lost or was created at this time. But one thing that cannot be debated is the king’s reaction to the discovery.

“Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the remnant in Israel and Judah,” he orders after tearing his robes in dismay, “about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD’s anger that is poured out on us because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book” (2 Chron 34:21).

After hearing from the prophetess Huldah, the king calls together all the people, “from the least to the greatest,” to read out loud the words of the lost book and renew the covenant his people should have with God. He removes the idols from the places of worship, and the chapter concludes by telling us that as long as he lived “they did not fail to follow the LORD, the God of their fathers” (2 Chron 34:33).

Isn’t it unimaginable that a people who had witnessed the power of God first hand, who had been fed by Him in the desert and led by Him as a pillar of fire, who had seen the Red Sea parted and the Egyptian first-born slaughtered about them, would ever come to a time where they had so loosed their attachment to that God they actually forgot some of His written edicts? They had lost His word so completely, that they were worshipping idols against His express instructions.

Yet, how often do we, who have an abundance of access to the Word of God, tend to lose it in our own way? How many of us can point to the exact portions of the Bible that back up why we believe what we believe? Do you know, for example, that many people’s concept of hell is more influenced by Dante, their picture of the Garden of Eden and the Fall drawn more by Milton than by the word of God? The influence is so woven into the fabric of our culture, that most of us don’t even realize it.

But those who study the Word and know it will be least likely to fall into the trap of believing something that is false or losing the Bible altogether.

I have a sort of unwritten promise to myself that I will one day compose an organized list of the verses in the Bible that I am glad I have read. These are words that let me know the meanings of grace and faith, define for me the qualities of a Christian, remind me that even a person with a heart like God’s can be fallible. They are the core defenses against those who would argue hatred in the name of God instead of the love He makes apparent. They are the keys to true belief that will keep me from straying as the “fathers who did not keep the word of the LORD.”

To have verses to be thankful for, we must first have read the verses of the Bible, and not just the verses we find pleasing or in accordance with our own preconceptions. To pick and choose without looking at the whole is a dangerous game indeed. More than one despot has validated himself by the word of God cut up in such a fashion.

I am thankful this Thanksgiving weekend to have the word of God to study on a daily basis and in a variety of contexts. I am prayerful that I will not lose those words, nor lead others to forget. What verses are you glad you have read? What verses will you add to your list tomorrow?

Posted in Christian Living, Christianity, Living

No Lie

We can lie to our friends and to ourselves, but let’s not lie to each other.
How many times have you heard this pithy comeback when you’ve just said something that you wished were true, but that everyone knows is just not the case? How often have you really needed to hear that comeback because what you’ve just said is something you are trying to convince yourself is actually true, even though your subconscious is screaming at you that you just aren’t right?
Under perfect circumstances, our relationship with God is one in which we do not lie to each other. Of course, God’s ability to hold up His end of the relationship is a given for those who believe in His infallibility. God never lies, does what He says He will do, and takes His promises seriously.
Since God is omnipotent, it’s really silly on our part to try to lie to Him. In essence, when we lie to God, we are really only deceiving ourselves.
It’s silly of us, really. God makes it easy to be honest with Him. Christ serves as our intecessor. His death has made it possible for us to ask for forgiveness and actually receive it.
Think on Christ’s companions on this earth: wayward women, tax collectors, lowly fishermen. He even died on the cross alongside two criminals (and extended redemption even then). We don’t have to be squeaky clean to be accepted by Him. We just have to willingly step into His open arms.
But stepping in requires that we first step in truth. One of the main things Christ required from His followers was honesty. When Peter claimed his loyalty to Jesus, Christ told him he would deny Christ three times before the rooster crowed. When the woman at the well was honest enough to admit that her fifth relationship with a man was not a marriage, Christ acknowledged her truthfulness and encouraged her to discontinue her life of sin.
Not lying to God means truly repenting of our misdeeds. Repentance involves not only recognizing a sin, but also determining to do one’s best not to submit to the tempations of that sin again. When we repent in honesty, we don’t lie to each other.
Don’t know if you’re lying to yourself? The fact that a little voice in your head has asked you the question should be the first indicator that you need to stop to address the issue you may be lying to yourself about. Analyze it. Take it apart. Look at it as if you aren’t you, but somebody else, like God, for example. And see how well your truth stands up against the test of the Bible.
One of the easiest tests of a truth versus a lie is asking yourself whether what you are doing is an action that shows love to those around you. Loving God first and loving others as we want to be loved ourselves sums up the law, according to the One who best knows.
Let’s not lie to each other. Being a Christian is a wonderful gift that deserves our best thanks–a life lived striving to be as Christ-like as we possibly can be.