6/13/16 Jim about 25
A general question on the sidewalk about his thoughts on eternity led to an hour long conversation yesterday. Jim has grown up in a Christian home and believes he has "been there, done that" with Christianity. Now he prefers to take the moral high ground, judging religion as man creating God in his own image rather than the other way around, and looking down on humans who feel we are more important or valuable than animals. I think I first caught his attention when I asked how well that has worked for him. "You say we are no more important than animals, but how well do you live that out?" He had to admit that when it comes to treating animals, not to mention other people, as being just as important as himself, he didn't come close to practicing what he preached. As for "man creating God", he also had to admit that his version of God or a higher power was also a product of his own imagination. It’s one thing to come up with our own statements of what we choose to believe in, but how well do they really hold up under scrutiny? I have yet to hear of a man-made set of beliefs that does not have major internal contradictions, and they are usually very obvious if we ask a few logical questions.
So what about Christianity? Does it hold up under scrutiny? The world would have us believe it does not and has many sound bites to "prove" it. Well-meaning but lazy Christians would have us believe it does stand up under scrutiny but is not to be questioned. But I told Jim that in my experience, if we have sincere questions and are willing to do our homework and wait for God's timing in receiving answers, Christianity doesn't have those internal contradictions.
We talked about the Bible's view of animals. Gen 1 reads "Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Animals were created for man, just as man was created for God. Does this give us license to torture and misuse them? No! Man's role is to "rule over" animals in God's image - a tremendous responsibility and a high calling.
But for someone like Jim who views God as a product of the whims and desires of human imagination, of "creating God in our image", this leaves too much open to interpretation and abuse. So we talked a lot about just what it means when the Bible says we are created in God's image. We are to find our identity in God's revelation of Himself and who we are in relation to Him, rather than in who our imagination or intellect tells us we are. Proverbs 3 tells us to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding". We need to look to God's word, not to our own abilities, to truly know Him and to know ourselves. Jim claimed to have done that, saying he had read the entire Bible through at one time in his life. But he had read it as only a work of man, and had failed to hear the voice of God in its pages. Like so many, he believes truth can be determined only through science and logic. But science is only possible because God has created an ordered universe with physical laws that make scientific theories consistent. And logic is only possible by using the brains and common sense God has given us. I pray our long conversation could help Jim rethink his "been there, done that" attitude toward Christianity, and help him realize that when it comes to knowing God as He reveals Himself, he hasn't even started.