The opinions expressed on this blog are the personal views of Andreas Kjernald and do not reflect the positions of either the UMC congregations in Skien or Hvittingfoss or the UMC Norway.

söndag 28 maj 2017

Spiritual insight #3

Living in Nepal has been a time of reflection and rest amid attempts of putting thoughts into writing (a book that is sloowly coming together) and as such I have garned some insights into my own spiritual life as well as what I consider spiritual insights in general. By no means are they novel or ground-breaking but they are thoughts at least I think hold some value.

The first one was that Jesus is, and has to be, elusive.
The second one was the absolute need for holding on to Christianity's claim to objective truth and reality and being able to know it.

The third insight is that when it comes to faith according to Christianity there is no such thing as cause-effect in the general way we normally understand cause and effect to work.

Make no mistake, most of what we do in our daily lives and most of what we consider to be real or true is based on the relationship of cause and effect. We consider it, whatever it is, to be real or true if it can be proven through a cause-effect test, even if we don't understand the relationship (perhaps especially when we don't understand the relationship).
For instance, most of you don't know anything useful about microwaves but you do know that they can make cold stuff warm through the use of a microwave oven. Are microwaves real? Sure, we can see the effect of them.
Is love real? Sure, that feeling inside could be indigestion but it seems to be caused by the girl/guy you walk by every day in the office. Love is real because we understand and feel its effects. Nothing makes us do more crazy stuff than love.

Here in Nepal it's all about cause and effect, but rather effect and cause. As far as I can tell the entire Hindu religion is built on this idea of being able to create (desirable) effects by doing certain causes, or rituals. It's called Puja.
Since it is a manmade religion it can't accurately predict what the different causes will have for effect. That is why there are so many rituals and rites. When they build a school they do certain rituals, causes, for the desired effect of a safe and good future for the school. However, if/when trouble arises the reasoning goes that another cause, or ritual, is needed for a good effect. This goes on ad nauseum.

However, when it comes to God and the Christian faith it is different.

There is nothing we can do (a cause) that will create a certain effect, save for the act/cause of repenting and believing in Jesus Christ which will cause the effect of salvation. We can't make God do anything.
We can't be good enough.
Smart enough.
Holy enough.
Hurt enough.
Broken enough.
Strong enough.
Pray enough.
Read our Bibles enough.
Go to church enough.
Love enough.

To make God do what we want.

No, there is no ritual or rite we can perform to get the effect we want. Period.

Think about it. You are completely powerless to make God do what you want or get what you want no matter how good or great or loving or kind or wonderful of an effect you are seeking. That's a little discomforting.

Perhaps you already knew all this. Perhaps you already live your faith in Christ as if being completely dependant upon "His will be done". All the time.
But I don't think so. I think you, like so many others, try to be a good Christian by seeking good outcomes/effects by doing certain things/causes. For example, how often haven't we sought a good outcome/effect by asking as many as we can to pray for if God would listen and answer and give us what we want if we have enough people praying. No.

However, at this point perhaps a Bible verse comes to your mind. "..and he will give you the desires of your heart". Doesn't that seem to indicate that there is something we can do do get what we want, like a good hindu?

No, there isn't. Here's the deal.
Those verses always tell us that we first have to:
"Delight in Him"
"Commit our way to the lord, trust Him and He will act"
"Be still before the lord and wait for him"

A Christian can't make God do anything based on a ritual or deed or rite. All he can do is to "trust" or "delight"in God or "be still and wait for the Lord". This is because our God is personal and not some power or essence. Only persons can delight or trust or believe.
This is also the meaning of Jesus's words "Whatever you ask in my name I will give you" and why so many people include those words "In your[Jesus] name, Amen" in their prayers. However, to just include those words do nothing and amasses to something very similar to a hindu's mantra.

The words by Jesus "- In my name" mean that we should pray according to him and who he is...and this can't be done if we don't first delight in him, commit to/believe in him and wait for him.
To get what I want doesn't exist for a Christian. To get what God wants does. Sometimes they are the same thing, sometimes not, but no matter what it is always because of who he is and what he wants, not because of some fancy ritual or rite or deed I cooked up.

And that is spiritual insight #3.

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