There’s a big difference between the God of the Bible, and all the other gods. All the other ‘gods’ are human inventions, created by the human mind; the God of the Bible, the one and only true God, is the God that rather than being created by humans, is actually the Creator of human beings. This is the only difference we need to know. Yes, the Greek gods are interesting, and the Norse gods are interesting, but after all’s said and done, they are only products of the human imagination. There’s about as much point as praying to one of these guys as there is to praying to a block of carved wood or stone or praying to the sun or the moon. There is only one God, one Supreme Being, that is above all and the Creator of all. Do you really want to put your faith or future in something that just isn’t real or that is in actual fact false? Likewise, there have been many supposed holy men (and even a few holy women too!) knocking around here and there at various times, and many people have put their faith in them. For a Christian, there’s only one man, one cool dude, that makes the grade; He leaves the rest behind in the starting blocks. Who is He? It’s Jesus! What did He say about Himself? ‘…I am the way, the truth, and the life…’ (John 14:6 KJV) No other person has ever claimed that, holy or not, and indeed no other person could because Jesus is the only way to God, He is the intercessor for us, the divine bridge between God and man. Jesus is the way to God, He is the truth of the world and the agent of creation, and He is true life, life that lasts and life that is abundant and overflowing.
Challenging the Status Quo
A yearning for things to stay the same, whilst living in societies where things keep changing, creates a dichotomy for many people. We yearn for good things to last, for all that is good to stay and all that is bad to stay away, but things are never static. We become nostalgia freaks, locked in the past and afraid of the future. The curious reality is that as things change they stay the same. What I mean is that society survives by changing; imagine a world without the Internet or mobile phones or supermarkets. We all change, get older, get more mature, get a little wiser (hopefully!) and we are not the same ten years down the line. In middle age, whenever that really is now, we take stock of our lives, we reflect on it all, the good and the bad, and we might feel that we could have done things, some things anyway, differently. Only a faith in God makes me feel that even the worst bits have something to teach me, that my life hasn’t been in vain and that the best is yet to come.
In many societies, even wealthy, progressive and democratic ones, there is a subtle notion, often heavily inferred, that those at the bottom should know their place, that only those who are already affluent or connected or powerful in some way should aspire to better things, should aspire to have better lives and money and nice things, the rest of us being merely grateful for the crumbs off the rich man’s table. In fact, the only way modern societies have genuinely progressed is when such notions are challenged by the mass of ‘ordinary’ people, whatever ordinary really means. Society progresses when we as groups of disenfranchised people challenge injustice, and when we as individuals don’t accept the limitations that greater society, and even other people, try to impose on us. In the past, only the wealthy Middle classes and Upper classes were supposed to prosper and have a future, and that is they key word: future. We all have the right to a future and we all have the right to better lives, better life chances and even to prosper. I don’t say we should plot revolutions or overthrow the government, but where we find injustice we should challenge it. ‘Yahweh says this: Act uprightly and justly; rescue from the hands of the oppressor anyone who has been wronged, do not exploit or ill-treat the stranger, the orphan, the widow; shed no innocent blood in this place.’ (Jeremiah 22:3 NJB) If we act uprightly, and refuse to prosper at someone else’s expense, God will guide our steps and He will see that no real harm comes to us. It seems to me that in many countries in the world, including many Western countries, people do indeed prosper at the expense of other people, even when such profiteering makes misery and creates rampant injustice. In this case, we should hope to be neither exploiter or exploited. ‘To absolve the guilty and condemn the upright, both alike are abhorrent to Yahweh.’ (Proverbs 17:15 NJB) We have to remember as Christians that though often societies, even the best of societies, can be skewed, corrupt, often unfair and partial to the rich and powerful, we must remain free of such things. I believe that we are all going to be judged one day; some of the people now prospering unjustly may very well find themselves on the wrong side of God, not a place anyone wants to be. Whatever we do, we should act justly and with a sense of fair play. ‘He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?’ (Micah 6:8 ESV)
The Waste of it All
In a report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers recently, it was said that almost half, yes almost half, of all the world’s food, about 2 billion tons worth, is binned before it reaches the dinner table. What an insane world we live in! Whilst it seems half the world is eating itself to death, the other half is slowly starving to death. What we now see on a global scale, real inequality and skewed redistribution of wealth and resources, is what many European countries were like in the 19th century; the rich had an overabundance of wealth, land, power and resources, the Middle class had some wealth and resources, and the Working class and poor often didn’t have enough even for basic needs to be met, whilst often living in wretched rural and urban poverty in awful unsanitary housing. What is the answer to such overwhelming waste and unequal redistribution? The first answer is for those who have enough to stop carping on about what they haven’t got and learn to be grateful for what they have! We have all done it, we have all coveted what we haven’t got, we all seem never to be satisfied with what we have; perhaps we need to learn simply to be content with what we have. Saint Paul said this about contentment: ‘I know how to live modestly, and I know how to live luxuriously too: in every way now I have mastered the secret of all conditions: full stomach and empty stomach, plenty and poverty. There is nothing I cannot do in the One who strengthens me.’ (Philippians 4:12-13 NJB) It may be that you are wealthy; then be grateful. It may be that you are poor; then be content with what good things you have and then pray earnestly about your needs being met. I’m not suggesting that someone poor shouldn’t aspire to a better life, of course not, don’t we all want to get on after all? I am suggesting that whilst we plan for better things, we should simply be grateful for any good thing we already have, whether we are rich or poor.
Why Did God Create Life?
All is competition; we compete with others in everything without even being aware of doing it half the time, competing in every way and often for no good reason. Competition seems to create nothing but aggressive people, and some win and many others lose. This creates societies that can be filled either way with aggressive people that are not really happy unless they are competing with other people in some way and winning in whatever way they can. In my eyes, this often results in societies that are not working to their full potential. What’s more, I firmly believe that God wants us to win, but at the same time He wants us to be the best we can be, not minding anyone else’s business but being concerned with our own business.
So, why did God create life? Just what purpose were human beings created for? ‘I look up at your heavens, shaped by your fingers, at the moon and the stars you set firm-what are human beings that you spare a thought for them, or the child of Adam that you care for him?’ (Psalm 8:3-4 NJB) We know that God created everything, and He created us or I wouldn’t be typing this blog and you wouldn’t be reading it, but can we understand God’s motives? When we look at the mess the world is in, and human society in general, we might genuinely wonder what the purpose of life is when life for many is often nasty, short and brutal. I believe that God created mankind to share in His glory, to share in His love, to love and so be loved, by God and by other people. There is a purpose to life, and sometimes when we go to the supermarket or are doing a hundred other mundane things, we forget that we are extraordinary and magnificent, the crown of creation, the reason for all creation. Try and remember that on a cold, wet, rainy Monday afternoon.
Finally, do we have to hate each other? No, I’ll never be a Muslim, I’ll never be an Orthodox Jew, I’m a Christian after all, but why can’t we live in peace? We all have so much to learn from each other.