Saturday, November 22, 2014

How Will My Life Be Better?

From the Bible Gateway Facebook page:
“It is fair to ask the question: ‘How will my life be better if I understand the Bible better?’ ” 
Bible Gateway is a huge website with a lot of followers, so there are too many good answers to this question to read them all.

Mine is this.

Let me just reframe the question the way I read it:
“How will my life be better if I understand reality?”
If the Bible is the eternal God deigning to communicate with man, then it reflects the truest, most accurate picture of the human condition, the tide of history and the character and purposes of God that can be known. In short, it reflects reality. Those who decline to meditate on it deliberately sabotage their attempts to arrive at or communicate anything truly useful:

·         The psychiatrist who studies the human mind without reference to sin is a blind leader of the blind. He is without the foundational principles of his own field of study.

·         The paleontologist who studies the past based solely on the reconstructions of secular experts has wandered down a blind alley far away from the prospect of genuine knowledge.

·         The teacher who presumes to educate without understanding the word of God imparts mere trivia to his or her students and fails to address not only the biggest question in existence but the one that stands to do the most good for those in the classroom.

Given that scripture is God speaking, I could go on all day making lists of horrible deficiencies in every field of knowledge that is merely secular, and explaining how knowing the facts on the ground, however little they may suit our predispositions, is inestimably preferable. But the question was “How will my life be better?”, wasn’t it. And the answer is, it very much depends on your definition of “better”.

In fact, your life may well be considerably worse if you understand the Bible better. Because knowledge brings both accountability and sorrow. And when we presume to open our mouths about what we have learned, we increase our level of accountability even further.

Frankly, the knowledge that in our natural state we are sinners destined for hell is not something most people would consider good news, truth though it is. It only becomes good news to me (a) when I accept the entire message of scripture, not just the bits that naturally appeal to me, and (b) when I start obeying it. As the Lord Jesus himself said:
“Blessed … are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
(Luke 11:28)
Since “blessed” in this context really means “happy”, that’s pretty much our answer right there. And that’s not a happiness based on wish-fulfillment, fantasy or pie-in-the-sky.

It’s happiness based on reality.

1 comment :

  1. God unequivocally states and suggests in the Bible that he is offering a very concrete way to make our lifes better by saying that we will derive benefits from our engaging with him. My preference, as a more concrete sequential kind of guy, is to try and see if this can be made more realistic and quantitative (or semi quantitative). One of the reasons someone may turn to religion is to avail oneself of the promised benefits like heaven, physical, mental, emotional, and material support, protection from evil, buildup of character, etc., which should then result in a bettering of life. Bettering should not necessarily only be understood materially, but perhaps even more in relational, humanistic terms.

    Now, it is clear that if benefits are available and actually applied that this has to happen in a concrete fashion in our material universe. Obviously, more or less material benefits are possible, some of which I would even classify as (my own makeshift category) tangible intangibles. For example, if your doctor asks you to describe your headache pain on a scale of 1 to 10, he is doing exactly that with intangible pain. He is making your totally subjective qualitative experience quantitative. Even though intangible to him it nevertheless exists and is very real to you. The doctor will take your word for it and has thus assigned a personal probability to your relayed experience of pain with regard to truthfulness, magnitude and type (dull, sharp, pounding, etc.). In other words, the doctor has to have faith to properly go about his business.

    This is a perfectly sound procedure in the soft and hard sciences but it always involves categorizing information obtained based on different types of likelihood. Personally, I will automatically and instinctively assign an overall likelihood and evaluate what type of action is needed, and when, and if at all. Basically, this is one important way in which knowledge is acquired, the other one is running a physical science test, or gathering physical quantitative data.

    With regard to the "benefits" their effect on the recipient(s) must therefore be measurable in a similar fashion. Thus, just as promised in the bible, a personal relationship and interaction with God, given faith, is feasible and results are (actually, must be) quantifiable (see my previous comments pointing out studies and data showing reduction in crime and improvement in family life for practicing Christians compared to secularists). This is a perfectly logical conclusion based on the idea of being given benefits for the betterment of your life and without that quantifiability, the theist would fall on hard times. There is reason to think that God is interested in incentivizing us to better ourselves by providing concrete and measurable benefits.