Bye-Bye Christianity Hello Atheism (Part two)

I-Quit

Those crazy Christians.

I cannot sit through another ridiculous worship song – simply repeating the same words over and over and over again. How can I continue to associate myself with a people who rely on faith in a god they have never seen? The same god who is allowing the evil from Syria to North Korea to Chicago. These same people who cannot decide whether they love Donald Trump or hate him. The same people who have more denominational sects than the number of likes on a Kim Kardashian Instagram photo. Christians are too fickle to trust and their god is a borderline tyrant. Those crazy, delusional Christians. I am Team Atheist now!

I know what you’re thinking. “How do you know the atheists are right?” Well, good question. Off the top of my head I can give 3 reasons:

1.  I could jump on the giant shipload of people with the plausible claim that the Bible was tampered with by the Roman emperor Constantine and/or by King James for their respective political reasons. Now to be fair to Christians lets admit that the Bible is a collection of documents written in 3 different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek), written on 3 different continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe), by 40 different authors over the span of 1500 years. Any tampering is extremely complex to pull off.

Not only that but if the Bible was tampered with then they did a terrible job. A good Bible tamper wanting to make Christianity more attractive would remove the part about John The Baptist getting his head chopped off. Also, why not omit the part about God lighting people on fire and killing evil rulers?

Strange thing is that all the older translations validate the accuracy of the King James version (because all translations are done by going back to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts and creating the translation from there). In order for The Bible to be secretly doctored then the doctoring must be taken place multiple times over the span of 1500 years on 3 different continents in 3 different languages…all the while not getting caught. Did King James’ staff use their Delta Skymiles to secretly travel from Europe to Africa so quickly?

Ok even though the tampering argument doesn’t hold up I’m going keep faith that it is possible. Hence, Team Atheist!

 

2.  Many Christians today prefer to dodge “unnecessary” conflict by avoiding any discussion on whether Genesis is history or not. On the topic of the validity of the Creation Story, I’ll admit, being an engineer and an atheist simultanouesly would be a little tough for me to believe the Atheists. It’s a dilemma because there is contradiction there. Secular science claims that Genesis is a myth but then cannot explain how some things occurred otherwise.

For example, I have undergraduate/graduate studies in geotechnical engineering and coastal engineering – including erosion, scouring, and sediment transport. If you look at the remarkable layering of the Grand Canyon you will see that it is sharply cut out. Basic engineering law would say it is impossible for the Colorado River to have done this feat over the span of millions of years. Many geologists have finally abandoned this once agreed upon secular theory.

The soil layering upon the sides of the Grand Canyon would simply collapse as the soil and rocks slowly erode over time. Our beautiful world wonder would simply not be as majestic. The only way it is possible to explain is with the short time frame in the aftermath of The Great Flood in the Bible. But wait I keep forgetting, I’m on the Atheist Team now. Lets change the subject.

grand-canyon-02

 

3.  Before I get to Number Three I must admit that I am now laughing in my head. What is funny is that if the God of the Bible is not real, if macro-evolution is true, if the Big Bang is true and we’re all chemical reactions…then everything I think and feel is only matter in motion. Therefore there is no way for me to develop the reasoning needed to conclude which of my competing thoughts are true and which are not.

You see, the Big Bang developed an instinct in me. If I have Instinct A vs Instinct B, how can there be a third Instinct that tells how to pick better the two options? My fellow Atheists, I’m on your team but that is not how things work. The Big Bang cannot create a conscience out of meaninglessness to dictate our thoughts. 

bigbang

Not only that, but if we are meaningless matter floating in the air then we are predetermined in every way. Everything becomes subjective. The moment I make a truth claim (i.e. there is no God) then I am rising above the rules of subjectivity. Once this happens I directly violate that determinism. The entire thing is a made-up mind game that goes in an endless, backwards circle.

Ooooh forget it. Why am I trying to kid myself? I will quit being an Atheist now. At least I fought the good fight for a solid 2 hours. Being an atheist would be far too much mental denial for me. Atheism is an uncomfortable faith. Secularists assume the current scientific paradigm is true when historically we have always had scientific paradigms collapse. Science constantly changes on itself. But hey, maybe our known science today is 100% true for the first time in human history. That is a risky gamble to trust my life with though.

Ok I’m back on Team Christianity! You can call this sudden return an epiphany. Or…or maybe what it is is belief in something which my soul knew was true all along. Maybe this is Truth.

I’d rather go back to church and sing worship songs with my hands raised. As the great philosopher Brad Paisley once put it, “What if they’re wrong what if they’re right? Those Crazy Christians.”

On a similar note, there is an extremely great question we tend to ask – “How could an all-powerful, all-loving God allow evil and suffering in this world?” Well, that is a discussion for a latter post. What a great God we have who allows us to search the mysterious wonders of his ways. As Ecclesiastes 4 and Hebrews 11 put it: Mystery is a prerequisite to Faith. And without Faith it is impossible to please Him.

 

 

A Pedophile’s Story in Heaven

It is the best of times. Although, in this place here, there actually is no such thing as time – There is only timeless eternity. Everyone is so filled with life and joy that tears could continually flow from our eyes – Albeit, there are no tears here. The perfection of the sun shines so brightly that there is not a single shadow created from the luminous light. Still, there actually is no sun here. We have the luxury of having the glory of God as our sun!

I rested in one of my favorite places: it has this title because I enjoy laying beside the tigers and the deer as they peacefully play together. This place is also my favorite because sometimes I can watch my daughter play football with other people. She was my daughter back on earth, but here she is ultimately and objectively seen as God’s daughter. Nonetheless, I still pleasure in proudly watching her play (especially as the quarterback). She always wanted to play with her older brothers back on earth, but was not strong nor fast enough to keep up. Here in the Kingdom, there is a removal of the physical advantages of the sexes. We all have powerful, heavenly ageless bodies.

On the last play of the game my daughter threw a bomb pass about 200 yards into the arms of her friend Josh who made a spectacular diving touchdown catch. My favorite part of his catch was that his impact did not even harm the grass underneath him. The grass here is unlike the weak, fragile earthly grass. In this place we see the true grass that God intended for creation, before The Fall. This grass is so firm that it cannot bent nor can be pulled from the ground itself! The beauty of the heavenly grass blades is greater than the grandeur of any waterfall back on earth. Goodness, it is impossible to fairly describe the epic waterfalls here in The Kingdom.

Josh and my daughter glided toward me in merriment. “Dad, did you see that catch! Josh here gets the MVP again. Show off” She jokingly pushed Josh’s arm. The young looking man just smiled and shook off the praise.

“Hey it’s almost time for the next banquet feast,” exclaimed Josh, with a sudden jolt of excitement. “If we leave now we can make the opening story given today”

The three of us headed over to the banquet feast. At the beginning of each banquet someone tells the crowd their story of how Jesus saved them back on earth. No story is ever too small. No story ever leaves us short of satiated praise of what God freely did for us. Afterwards we feast and drink in laughter.

One of the angels signaled for today’s speaker to come in front of the podium. The speaker spoke in a strong, educated English accent:

“Hello family. My name is Henry. I was once a university professor and happily married to a woman of 15 years. Neither of us knew Christ or even gave thought to him. On weekends my neighbors began asking me to watch over their adolescent son. The son was mentally disabled and helplessly mute. For 10 years I would periodically watch him. For 10 years I would sexual abuse this child. I rarely gave time to feel guilt or shame. Neither was I ever caught in my wrong doing. Eventually I earned another teaching job and we moved away. My marriage began to disintegrate and we eventually divorced.

I was left to myself. My life grew darker. A close friend begged that I should look to the Lord, but I despised the frivolity of the religious teachings that I learned in my youth. Regardless, my life reached the point where I was sinning at such a varsity level that I thought that there was no way that God could ever love me. Therefore, I dove headfirst into my sinning further and further. Until all I saw was the mirage of Hell itself.

In my 60th year, a homeless man stopped me as I walked to the store. I begrudgingly gave him a few seconds of my time. Instead of asking me for money, he went on unexpected rant about how Jesus had recently ‘saved him’. I wanted to walk away…however, his speech was curiously robust. Normally, I relate to intellectual dexterity yet he spoke with pure visceral emotion. For the first time in my life, I had heard. I heard. That day I bought a Bible and read until my eyelids were numb. I wrestled with the Lord and finally gave my life to Christ. I was infinitely lost and Jesus’ mercy grabbed me by the waist.

I prayed that God would show me my next steps. The following Sunday I joined a church family. The very next day the doctor informed me that I was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer with only three months to live. After crying for hours, the Spirit reminded me that my life was already not my own anymore – but rather, it was in God’s all along. My burdens lifted from that simple truth and led me to live the last three months of my life for Christ. When my new church family heard my full story, praise for God erupted. There was a major revival in the city and everyone was coming to Christ! What I, in my past life, intended for harm….God used for good. I now see that my past life was a mirage. What I saw as blurry darkness, I now clearly see the beauty of God’s redemption.

♪ ♪ ♪ I will forever praise him. The rhythms of his grace are extravagant. You are God. You are Good. You are Jesus ♫ ♫”

The Professor then signaled for someone else to rise. Everyone turned to see Josh, my daughter’s MVP wide receiver, stand up.

“This is Josh,” pronounced the Professor. “He is the young boy that I molested for ten years. His suffered greatly on earth. Nevertheless, God graciously saved both his life and mine. We are eternally grateful”.

Josh, who was once mentally disabled and mute…who lived a life of deformity – was no longer bound in that inescapable box. He now lives in holy paradise. His new body was from God.  He radiates God’s glory along with the rest of us. We all simultaneously rejoiced to God.

To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory forever and ever!!

Cute Puppies May Make the Best Atheists!

I hate my roommate’s dog. My roommate loves his dog.

I hate way his dog charges the front door when I arrive home. I hate the way he watches my every movement as I eat. I hate the way that he follows me when I am cooking. I hate the sound that the hardwood floor makes as he gently walks around. I hate the way he stares at me as I walk up the stairs. While at work, I have daydreams of doing “things” to that dog.

My roommate adores his dog. He loves the way his dog joyfully greets him every time he comes home. He loves the way his dog easily follows instructions. He loves that his dog will relax with him on the couch and also go jogging with him. My roommate loves to tell people about his dog. Even if they are separated whenever my roommate is out of town, he is constantly worrying about his dog.

I do not necessarily hate the dog. However, I do not like him. However, my roommate does like him. Who is correct in their thinking? Him? Me? We have two opposite and competing solidarities. Who wins? I have a coworker that is from a country where they eat certain dogs in their soup. There are numerous other countries of the like. Are they more hateful than I am since there are killing dogs? Or are they better than me because it is purely acceptable in their country?

I have joking debates with my co-workers at least twice a week about the benefits, or lack thereof, of owning dogs. Usually I am alone against 20 other people. It is safe to say that I have yet to win one of those arguments. At least once a week my roommate will ask if his dog has won me over yet. Haha, he honestly believes that I am going to “cave in”. Maybe I was born during a full-moon and, therefore, have been genetically predisposed into disliking dogs because of werewolves.

Ohhh yes, the werewolf. Such a mythical, fairytale creature. Speaking of fairytales, here is the thing about atheism: There are similar age-old questions that many people have asked since the beginning – Is God good? If God is real, the why is there evil? Is Christianity good for the world? The believer would say that God is good and Christianity is good for the world. On the other hand, the atheist would say the opposite. Who is correct?

Lets presume that the atheist is correct. Lets say that because there is so much evil in the world, that there is no such thing as a god. With that in thought, if there were no god, then religion would also be bad since it is based off of a false notion. The collapse of atheism occurs because there is a problem with stating that there is evil in the world:

  • When you say that there is such a thing as EVIL, you are also assuming that there is such a thing as GOOD.
    • If you say that then you must also assume that there is a moral law/moral standard that differentiates between GOOD and EVIL.
      • Now if we admit there is a moral law, then there MUST be a moral law-giver who supplies this information … hence, God.

Therefore, if there is no God, then there is no moral law-giver. If there is no moral law-giver then there is no moral standard. If there is no moral standard then we have no way or reason to distinguish between good and evil. If we cannot differentiate between good and evil then we cannot even say that there is evil in the world. Atheism, in this argument, collapses on itself. #Fairytales. Yeah, fairytales.

A rebuttal is that humans are able to differentiate between good and evil due to human solidarity. From evolution, we have evolved into having an innate sense of “knowing” good and evil. The problem here is that if macroevolution is indeed real, then morality has to have evolved along with it. Our behavior as a people should be improving. This does not seem so as the 20th century was historically the bloodiest time in the history of the universe. Even today we have a plethora of technological advances and medical breakthroughs, but our selfishness allows for people to die from curable illnesses EVERYWHERE (violence of omission). Our greed has caused breakdowns in ALL aspects of our society. With technology we build more efficient warfare weapons. The 20th century alone drew more blood than the previous 19 centuries combined. Second and third-world country rebellions and causalities have become so cliche that our news media would rather talk about Justin Bieber’s latest excursion.

It can be said that we have evolved into knowing morality because we have learned to help one another in order to survive. This is a half-truth. We have also killed one another, conquered countries, and cheated on exams in order to progress together as human beings. Who can then say that one way is correct and one is not when they both achieve the same goal. Some people prefer to cheat on an exam rather than study for one. Some people do not like dogs staring while they eat. Where do we find objective standards? It will sound arrogant to some, but the source has always been God.

Romans 1:20 is going to claim that evidence of God’s existence can be seen in everywhere. It can be seen in the greatest, extraordinary things of this world. It can also be seen in the smallest particulars of this world. Are we opening our eyes to see the Truth? The same problem that was blinding our grandparents, Adam and Eve, still blinds us to this day. Luckily, Jesus left his throne and came to earth to die and resurrect for forgiveness of our sins. Luckily, for those who believe, the blinders have now been lifted (2 Corin. 3:14-18). We have freedom to see! Praise God, we can see!

5 Reasons Why Christian Males Almost NEVER ASK GIRLS OUT On Dates Anymore

At some point during mid-college, my compass switched from having predominantly guy friends toward a large influx of females friends. For some time now, many conversations with those girls have turned into their wonder of “why Christian men rarely ask them out on dates”.  I have had numerous heart-to-heart conversations with awesome, intelligent, Jesus-loving, beautifully single young ladies that pour out their frustrated hearts at why this is so.

Of course, from the male perspective, there are blinders that hinder me from fully empathizing. But in those moments…as I listen to them…I can’t help but see it in their eyes. The fearful angst in the crackling of their voice. Their stare of credulity as they wait to hear your response of hope. They’ve been taught to rest in Christ and have faith in his sovereign plan. Taught to be content with their singleness until the right man comes along. Ooookay…true, but tell that to the girl that has only been on 1 date in the past 3 years. Or to the girl that is 30 years old and still waiting. If we honestly pay attention we would begin to see a steep decline in the rate at which men are dating. After months of pondering and diving deep into this massive topic, I have five reasons why this “asking out” rate has decreased. These will be generalizations, of course, but what I have on my side is the Bible and a little bit of psychological binoculars.

1)  The Social Media Effect: Welcome to the glamorous world of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! These three entities have transformed the way that we men view the pressures of finding a girlfriend/wife. Historically a man had, roughly, less than 10 female friends on his radar. From that amount, his choices were limited and there was a certain “weight” or “pressure” he’d feel to find a mate. Today, I have almost 3000 Facebook friends. From those Facebook friends I can see photos and their friends of friends. This naturally gives way to thoughts that develop in my mind that I have an opportunity to date these girls. What was once knowing less than 10 girls has now exponentially increased to thousands for me AND my male counterparts. This gives us a false sense of satisfaction that takes away any weight on our shoulders that we need to pursue a woman right now. Who needs to pursue immediately…we’re content in our gigantically-fictional plethora of options.

2)  A Feminized Jesus & the Nice Guy Complex: I am not sure when exactly this happened, but somewhere along the lines in our recent church history we began to view Jesus is a very feminine manner. He became no longer a God who was authoritative, had supreme leadership over all, filled with passion for His Father’s glory and likeness, and bold in his worldviews and lifestyle. For at least the past 40 years we have shifted focus solely on his love attributes. He is a God with a perm in his hair who spreads pixie dust of love all throughout the Gospels. He never yells, he never rebukes, never upsets others. He is all about love love love! Here’s why this teaching is so catastrophically damaging in this context: Colossians 1:15 says that ‘Jesus is the image of the Invisible God’.  Men are image bearers of God since we were all made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Since the Fall, we have lost that perfect view of God’s image. Now we have Jesus to look to in order to get back to what we were created for. However, with us males looking at a feminized Christ, we begin to reflect these new feminine traits that have been attributed to him. If we are a projector….we project onto a blank screen whatever is shown through us. While seeing a feminized Jesus we’ve, in turn, automatically projected more passivity, less in our boldness, and are more inclined to play a super nice guy role. This nice guy generally doesn’t what to risk boldness but instead wants to play it safe. Most importantly, as we’ve obtained this feminine worldview, we’ve lost some of our male skill/desire/trait to pursue the woman. God’s intended design for the male is being skewed. Very scary stuff. Very scary stuff.

3)  Watered Down GOSPEL Teaching: Similar to before, many churches over the years have become afraid to talk about the “hard” things of the Bible. The things that may scare people or rub them wrongly. Many churches and pastors became more focused on growing their church attendance and pleasing people rather than following thousands of years of church history and preaching for God with God’s word. They rarely teach on sin anymore. The cross and Jesus’ bloody death are rarely deeply studied and reflected on. If the Bible were a movie, many churches have pushed to cross and sin back to the ending credits. And no one pays attention the ending credits.  Ignoring these biblical concepts retard our CONCRETE UNDERSTANDING of Jesus’ pursuit of the church (His people). The Gospel should not only be the focus of the movie but should also be a real-life every day experience. Instead, this has weakened the male’s view in how and what it means to pursue a wife.

4)  Girls, some blame is on you as well: We sometimes feel that when we ask you out, you take expectations too far too quickly. A coffee date becomes an expectation of marriage from your eyes. We understand that we are dating-to-marry, but that pressure makes us uncomfortable at times. It becomes that if things fail to work out then you and your friends blame us for leading you on. We become the evil coffee bandits.

5)  Satan Never Sleeps: Hey, the dude is smart and wise. Satan has culture tugging on our neck collars. Diminishing our number of men in the church. He has society whispering in our ears. The definition of love has changed from a Biblical definition to the cultural “what makes me feel good at the moment”.

So what now; I mean, this is heavy stuff. I have to be honest with you and say these things because I’m more afraid not to point these things out. The reason why I have this insight is because…ding ding ding…I’m in some of these categories. And have close friends in all 5. So what do we do now? The funny thing about being young is that it’s easy to point out a problem. The funnier thing is that in our youth we rarely have the answers. Still, one common sense answer is obvious –  we need to get back to the discussing the nature and character of the triune God of the universe. This is what sustains us as a people. In the context of this blog, that is what will guide us men into the way he designed our relationships to flow. There is a reason why the Apostle Paul pleads with us to stay away from weak teaching and to seek good doctrine (1 & 2 Timothy). We can do that or we can continue to aim for high church numbers with cheap 5-minute salvations, weak teaching, and a feminized Jesus. But that’s a silly trade if we are losing our Godly men. What are we going to do men? Women? Pastors?

……..”Father, may our generation get back to your true reflection. Jesus, forgive us for mocking your image. I pray for those who hear this…really hear this. I pray for the hearts of our sisters. I pray for the strength of our brothers”…….

God Saves All of us Crazy & Odd People

  • I have some Asian friends that are a part of this very large Asian group of believers. They gather together in various homes every day of the week. They pray drastically different than how I have learned to pray. They do hospitality well and treat me as one of their own. And they love Jesus very very much.
  • I have these friends that are connoisseurs when it comes to alcoholic beverages. They know every brewery in Raleigh and like drinking wine as if they are practicing for heaven. They truly have deep desires to grow in their faith. And they love Jesus very very much.
  • I have other friends that were taught that drinking alcohol is sinful and that God does not want us to use musical instruments during church worship. But God still saved them despite such teaching. And they love Jesus very very much.
  • I know many people that were raised in the Bible Belt and were honestly saved at the age of 6. Some come from financially well-off families. They praise Ronald Reagan, and they think Democrats are ignorant. And they love Jesus very very much.
  • I know people that were not raised in the church and still struggle with dirty mouths at times. However, they have a youthfully passionate faith. They think Republicans have satanic tendencies. And they love Jesus very very much.
  • I have a few friends that are natural born skeptics. If someone tells them that a movie is good…they will doubt that opinion until they see the movie for themselves. They wrestled with doubt in Christ until they received enough rational proof. The love apologetics and Jesus very very much.
  • I grew up in Riverdale/College Park, GA – In a society where rapper T.I. was idolized as The King, gang members were rock stars, and Waka Flocka was viewed the second coming of Christ… even through that, God saved. And there are people there who love Jesus very very much.
  • There are some friends of mine that are borderline hippies. They rock climb in their chacos and contra dance every week. Some do not have a facebook! However, they intimately walk with the Lord in ways that I am jealous of. And they love Jesus very much.
  • I have a dear friend that spent some time in Haiti for missionary work. She describes that, while there, some of the Haitian natives would constantly come up to her to ask “if she had Jesus in her heart.” Depending on her response, they were ready to tell her all about Jesus. Haha, they were going to teach a Christian missionary about the Gospel. Evangelistic boldness is so woven into their Haitian culture that they automatically bring God up to anyone without fear. They love Jesus very very much.
  • There are between 70 and 90 million believers in China. A majority of whom worship in underground caves and in residential house churches. The communist Chinese government continues to imprison and kill leaders, but the revival continues to flourish. The government has begun to cut off the water supply and electricity in the homes of those house churches… but they still keep multiplying. They love Jesus very very much.

If we’re honest, many of us fall into the trap of believing that Christianity draws in a certain type of person. Whether it is a certain Myers-Briggs personality type, a subtle caricature, a certain race, hierarchy of class, economic status, or geographic locality. This foggy perception of Christians suddenly transforms our Biblically “open” faith into a religion that seems very “exclusive. An exclusiveness that is seen from both outside and inside the church. How is it possible that we have neglected to open our eyes into a stable awareness that God reaches ALL domains of society? Additionally, all throughout scripture there are commands and imagerys of unity within the body. “One body with many members” – 1 Corinthians 12:12. Ephesians 4, Psalm 133:1.

There is something about a body of people standing “together” firm in the faith, as Philippians 1:27, 28 describes. When people that have the same interests and motives surround us, we feel this sense of warmth and confidence that nothing can stop us. That is why there is such a thing as home-field advantage in sports…the fans and team feel emboldened around each other. Imagine the players on your favorite football team arriving to their game wearing different colored jerseys. There’s no unity in that and it will not intimidate the other team. We need one another.

I would love for those Haitian believers to teach me a thing or two about boldness and evangelism. When I’m having doubts about my faith, I need to hear from natural born skeptics how they wrestle Satan with apologetics and the power of God’s word. We need one another because God has sanctified us all in such particular ways that are intended to build the body. Not only for our local church, but also the universal (or global) church body at large. What Satan wants…what Satan loves is for us to not have any awareness of each other. For example, he doesn’t want us aware of the boldness of our Haitian brothers and sisters because, in turn, that would embolden us. Satan wouldn’t want that, now would he…

A close Clemson friend of mine recently told me of this God-given vision he received while sleeping one night: As he was dreaming, he suddenly saw this vision of an uncountable large gathering of people that were far beyond thousands of thousands. They were of all the different nationalities and from different walks of life. All of a sudden, their skins peeled and they were no longer recognizable by any form of identity. They weirdly became transformed into everyday construction tools from our local Home Depot (ex. hammers, measuring tapes, bevel squares, screwdrivers etc). They depicted how God was using each one of those immense number of believers for in collectively building his kingdom. Suddenly, all the tools went to work, building God’s kingdom in front of my friend!! He further described that it did not take long for all the clattering and noises to become overwhelmingly loud. All the action started causing his heart rate to abruptly increase and he literally started shaking and woke up from his dream.

Imagine the clatter we can make together as one team for our God and Savior. Imagine the encouragement and the inescapable reflection of God’s glory that would take place. Imagine us setting personal preference as secondary to the Gospel. #OneBody #OneSpirit #OneChurch #ILoveHashtags

The Praise of Cute Babies, Ryan Gosling’s Abs, and Holiness

There we sat in the movie theater, with about 200 other people, just in time to see the opening of Crazy Stupid Love. With this being in the genre of a romantic comedy, it is safe to say that the female gender took the majority count in the room, ha. Midway through the movie we finally approached the imminent flirtatious scene between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone (my future wife). What happened next turned out to be hilarious – Ryan Gosling takes off his shirt… and on the 32-foot tall, 75-foot wide movie theater scene, 200 people received a full HD view of his 8-pack abs. I kid you not, every girl in the theater automatically gave some type of audible reaction. 70 girls gave a deep gasp, 70 other girls giggled, and 30 other girls clapped. The 30 guys in the movie theater just smacked their teeth in a jealously retorted gesture. However, the reactions from the girls were priceless. There was a warm delight that triggered in their eyes and bubbled up into a spontaneously audible reaction. An external praise.

ImageNow, let us ask ourselves a question: Why is it that there was such outward expression givien off by those girls? Why did they not just feel the delight and keep that feeling to themselves? We know that their reactions to Ryan’s abs were not forced out but, on the other hand, were naturally performed. That action is slightly weird when you think about it, is it not?

Another example – In the church that I attend we have experienced this “baby boom” over the past 10 months. Literally, there are babies everywhere. I am scared. (I have a prophetic theory that the babies are going to take over the church and turn us into their slaves… but that is neither here nor there). One established fact is that the babies are awfully adorable. I mean my goodness they are precious.  They turn heads like it’s their jobs. People are continuously complementing the babies, continuously gathering around them, and continuously telling other people about a new baby that they must see. What is it that causes us to react like this? It is not as if we haven’t seen a baby before.

The answer happens to be the exact same reason that God asks us to praise him. All throughout the Bible we see numerous instances where God says to give him joyful praises.  C.S. Lewis, who used to be a staunch atheist until his conversion, used to hate Christianity for this reason. He felt as if God was this old beggar-woman asking for praises all the time. After his conversion, he realized the truth behind why God demands that we praise him:

C.S. Lewis –

Just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’…

…“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.”

What Lewis is saying is that the reason girls in a movie theater naturally give an external reaction to Ryan Gosling’s gorgeous abs is because their joy in those abs does not feel complete until they let it out. The reason we tell people about cute babies is because we have to share this news in order to complete the feeling. The initial joy is fuel that leads us into some form of obedience to achieve the full joy. We see this with Instagram and Facebook as well. We post pictures of the coffee we’re sipping or the delicious meal we’re eating because we must tell someone. Weird, huh? We do it all the time. We are by design worshipers and want people to join us in that feeling of gratification. God wired us for this. God’s demand to praise him is not meant for Himself.  God does not need our approval. He tells us to praise him because in the act of praising we walk into a fulfillment of the eternal-like joy that we were created for. If God loves you he would want what is best for you. What is best for you is Himself. In order for your joy to be naturally completed, it must be expressed. The scriptures are hinting to us, “do you want fullness of joy…do you want everlasting peace and freedom…then praise God in all things with all your heart.” Isaiah 25:1, Psalm 150:2, James 5:13, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, etc.

The Lord wants us to understand that anything we praise that does not end in praise of the triune God will be fleeting (Job 7:6-7, Psalm 144:4, James 4:14). Ryan’s abs will not last forever, babies eventually reach the terrible twos, delicious sandwiches will quickly disappear, and Tom Brady will eventually grow too old for the game. Unless our everyday pleasures end in ultimate praise in Jesus Christ then those pleasures are restricted. Everything that is seen is transient. Our hope lies in focusing more on what is unseen. Jesus takes our sins, dies on the cross in our place for our sins, then rises from death. He gives us his righteousness. He gives us his heart. The more our affections are stirred for Christ, that joy will fuel our obedience to worship, to evangelize, and to naturally give off fruits of the spirit…freely. Not as a job or obligation but because we already feel his affections for us. Continually sitting underneath this Gospel story causes us to continually remember, which in turn, naturally triggers that “joy of eternal significance”. That joy that creation yearns for.

Let us adore Him. Let us praise Him.

Sources:

Reflections on the Psalms. C.S. Lewis. 1958.