Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Relativism and absolutes



Last night I listened to an educated doctor say that drinking coffee was good for people. I chuckled, because drinking coffee would throw my heart into A-fib, and while that might not kill me, it certainly would not be good for me. That said, the idea that things can be true for one person and not another often needs qualification.

Coffee being good for some people but not for others supports this idea, but many other examples do not. For instance, breathing is necessary for everyone. So is drinking water, but not trying to walk on it. All people benefit from food also, and from protection from the elements.

Beyond these universals, personal preference makes things fuzzy. I like chocolate; my husband does not. I would say it was good for me and he would not agree that it was good for him. This is a minor thing, but human preference can go to astonishing extremes.

For instance, last night on the news, one lead story was about an obese woman whose doctor told her that losing weight would solve her three major health problems. She interpreted his wisdom and authority as “discrimination” and was crying for laws to protect her from such treatment. In her mind, a preference for too much food gave her the right to eat the way she wanted and the doctor could not infringe upon that. She just wanted him to fix her medical issues or in other words, treat the symptoms and not the cause.

This is where I struggle with those who reject absolute truth and any kind of authority, particularly that of our Creator. Even if they acknowledge that God actually exists, they insist what He says is not about them, and what He demands is only for those who accept it. When God says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” His words are taken as somebody’s opinion. Personal preference says this can be ignored because “it does not apply to me.”

I’m more black and white concerning truth. Besides believing that if God says it, it must be true, I try to base most of my ideas on the source of information rather than my own reasoning about it. That is, if the town’s biggest liar told me my car was stolen, I’d check the garage first. If a website tells me I should not eat popcorn, I will seek other sources. However, if God tells me that my life needs a fix, I try to find my mirror so I could see what He is talking about and fix it.

All that said, faith is not only believing what God says, but ‘acting as if God is telling the truth.’ With all belief systems, anyone who ignores their own ideas of truth really doesn’t believe them at all.

Faith that acts includes the negatives, like ‘all have sinned’ but it also covers the good news . . . “Christ redeemed . . . .” (Galatians 3:13)

The Word of God would be a horror and a total candidate for relativity if all that it said was that I am a lost and hopeless sinner. Who wants to hear that? Instead of saying stuff like “this might be true for you but not for me” is not balanced unless they read all of what God says, not just the bad stuff.

God provides a way out for our sin. We fall short, but He loves us too much to leave us with just that. The Old Testament sacrifices were a “shadow of the good things to come” and even though those sacrifices were continually offered every year” they could “not make perfect those who draw near.” Instead, they were a “reminder of sins” and their seriousness.

Those offerings also demonstrated the faith of those who offered them. Clearly, God was looking for faith, not for the “blood of bulls and goats” that could not take away sins.
While these were important for after the fact of sin, what God really wants is obedience. The Bible says, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.”

In speaking of Christ, this is the good news; Jesus came to do what all of humanity fails to do. He “offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins . . . sat down at the right hand of God . . . . and by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:1–14)

By Jesus becoming sin for us, God offers good news. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37) All who believe and receive Jesus will experience forgiveness of sin and eternal life!

Those who reject the “all are sinners” part also miss out on the “all who believe” part and the experience of redemption. All who say, “That is fine for you but not for me” miss out because of two little words that offend them: all and sin. Instead, they figuratively sue God for discrimination and miss out on the total well-being that He offers.

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Jesus, I feel like weeping. Accepting the reality of what I am and what I have done is no fun, but knowing You and knowing that I have eternal life because of You goes beyond fun into a deep joy — a joy that I know will only intensify and eventually turn into eternal bliss that cannot ever be lost or destroyed. Thank You for helping me see how much I need You rather than dismissing You.

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