12/9/12 Hakim about 22
Today I asked a young man eating at a Jimmy Johns if he had time to answer some questions. He – Hakim - agreed, and told me his father was Baptist, his mother Muslim, but he had done some exploring of different religions and come up with his own system of beliefs that he feels comfortable with. He described God as something more like a force than a personality, so I asked what I believe to be a key question – “Would this force be subject to the physical laws of the universe, or would it have been the creator of those laws?” Hakim thought it would have created them, so I asked “Would an impersonal force really have the ability to choose one law over another, or to create one thing over another for that matter? Isn’t the ability to have preferences of one thing over another a sign of personality?” I thought this was an important point to make because the result of believing in God as a “force” rather than a personality is that the resulting “god” then becomes subject to physical laws of cause and effect, and if we can manipulate certain conditions, this force must then react in predictable ways. We humans are then eventually able to manipulate that god according to our every whim. Our relationship with God would be similar to the way we are learning to harness electricity – dangerous at first but less and less so as we learn to control it. This view of God is also what makes the idea of magic so attractive. Say a certain spell and the force must respond in a certain way. Rub the bottle and the Genie must do our bidding. It extends even to our prayers. Tack on “in Jesus name” at the end of a prayer and we think God is obligated to answer it the way we want Him to. We could control that kind of god and thus become gods ourselves and safe from his judgment. No wonder Hakim was “comfortable” with this idea of God. But if God is a personality and able to have preferences – deciding good and evil among other things – then we can no longer define Him or put Him in a box. We must allow Him to call the shots. Are we really willing to do that? Romans 9:13 says “Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” The Bible says that God chose Jacob over Esau in the womb – long before they had the opportunity to earn or reject His approval. Are we willing to allow God to be God, and believe that He can make choices for no other reason than that He is God and has the right to do so? I didn’t go that deep about God’s sovereignty with Hakim, but once he was able to accept that God is a personal God and not an impersonal force, his demeanor changed. Tears welled up in his eyes throughout the rest of the conversation as we talked about how one can be in a right relationship with Him. 1 Timothy 4:10 says that “we have put our hope in the living God”. For Hakim, that’s a great place to start.