February 1, 2019: Jeff
Apologies if my title confuses some. I don’t think I know of an equivalent english word that so adequately represents the expression I’m trying to convey. 靠山 in Chinese, means: someone or something in which one can lean upon. Reliance in times of difficulty or confusion; someone that one can turn to when requiring assistance in life. Translated directly, to “lean on a mountain”.
Today, we were graced by Jeff. I’d call it a taster talk. So, the definition of taster is “someone whose job is to taste different wines, teas, or other foods or drinks, in order to test their quality” (Collins English Dictionary). It was a pretty introductory talk to explore one’s beliefs in their choice of directional sense in living their life. To start us off, JF asked us from a Christian perspective, we know and hold certain beliefs, which basically guide our decisions. But for those whom do not have a religion, what or how do you match your actions and behaviour to, and hold steadfast to – when life starts to crumble?
We then start off with a series of questions:
- How did this world come to be?
Aside: I have my own opinions/thoughts, but to each their own being valid understandings and reasoning as to their answers to each question.
I thought that this world came to be because God delighted in His work. For we see in Genesis, that God saw it all as good, after He worked for six days – putting all creation into existence. God is one who instills joy in all that He does, and He saw creation as a masterpiece of His own.
JF points us to John 1:1-3:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
It’s pretty clear. God made all things, and before Him, nothing existed – until He put His hands to work. Creating and stirring creation into existence.
- What is your purpose in life?
Though many may have opposing beliefs on the “purpose” that one has in life, I attribute my purpose to glorifying God. Why? For I see that all other states of being would pale in comparison to, glorifying God. Though I would say I love the work I put forward, when it is not with the notion of understanding all the work I do, is for the good of God and in preparation for His kingdom to come – I do not think I would be as satisfied, as I am now.
JF points us to Colossians 3:23-24:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
An excerpt I wrote a while back about glorifying God through the work one does:
As the Anglican writer John Stott explains, the kind of work we’re called to is: “The expenditure of energy (manual or mental or both) in the service of others, which brings fulfillment to the worker, benefit to the community, and glory to God” (120). To put it simply, we all know that we want to do work that we believe God has called us to (vocation) and we love. A benefit to the community? To make the world into more of a Garden-like place. Okay – what about the glory to God part?
Well, if God’s glory is his presence and beauty, then, as I see it, we glorify God by reshaping the raw materials of the world in such a way that, for those with eyes to see, God’s glory and presence are made visible (Pastor John Mark Comer, 120).
Comer then relays this to: when we see a piece of art – we see behind the art to get a glimpse of what the artist was like (121). Or with a piece of music, we hear behind the music and question who or how the composer was (121). In the same way, seeing as how we’re the image of God (Genesis 1:27) , we want to mirror and mimic what God is like to the people around us – to show the world more of what God is like (126).
- Do you try your best to do what is good?
Honestly, I want to say that I do. But I’m also somewhat of a more timid personality when it involves external players. I often ask for confidence and boldness from God, and are at complete odds when I end up losing the battle. But I see each encounter as a learning experience of a sort.
JF guides us towards Romans 7:21-25:
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature, a slave to the law of sin.
Although the body is often subject to sin, we can delight in the abundant mercy and freedom He has given us, through the grace giving through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The struggle between the law of sin, the law of the mind, and God’s law will always exist. It is essential that one continually prays for provisions in persevering and building up one’s character as the war wages on.
- How would one define good or bad? How is your morality defined?
Now, now: I saw this question as a tricky sort of a conundrum. I do not see morality as being a factor of what defines a Christian and a non-Christian. For I used to believe mortality could be a stepping stone to becoming a “Christian”. But what I realized is that as James wrote, though faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action is dead (2:17), the body without the spirit is dead (v26). It is the implication of knowing God personally, that faith manifests itself in deeds that glorify God. But moral deeds, without faith or the Spirit stirring within one as a daughter or son of God, does not encapsulate the intentionality and cause of why one, works for the will and goodness by God.
JF points towards Psalm 119:105:
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
For it is only if our paths are set straight and fed by the Word, can we know what is deemed “right” or “wrong”. For God’s laws were put in place for a reasoning, incomprehensible to those whom do not acknowledge His importance.
- If the notion of heaven did exist, where would we deserve to go?
This was another iffy question for me. Deserve is an obligation, but for us, I would hope one understands: grace was never obligated as given from God. All of mankind did not deserve life, and instead – we were destined for God’s wrath and righteous judgment. Jesus as the saving grace, freed us from such bondage.
Quite eloquently put, JF states: grace is the riches of Jesus that we do not deserve. Ephesians 2:3-5:
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
- How confident can you state, in that which you believe to be true?
To be honest, I wanted to be a 5. But I struggled with the notion of being too confident. For in that state, I would question my confidence, not in knowing our Father, but in my inner pride of being self-sufficient and knowing that I will be saved.
Where would you place yourself?