The reason I’m a Christian…

This is why I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.

First, I look outside of myself, into the world, and see absolute wonder. I see Earth, that appears to be in a constant state of change. I see the complexity of the universe. Stars. Galaxies. Other earth-like planets. I look and see the intricate nature of emotion. I see corruption. Hate and anger. Violence. Inequality. I see brokenness. Pain and sorrow. But I also see compassion, love and forgiveness. I see charity and selflessness. I get the sense that there is something mysterious about the universe. Something that the human mind can’t explain. When I look outside of myself I feel like something isn’t ‘right’ with the world that I live in. The way I see it, there is something wrong. Yet, on my own I can’t explain it.

Then, I look inside of myself, into who I am, and see something that has a purpose. I don’t consider myself to be just a bunch of particles gathered together without direction. I feel like I can achieve things. Achievements that are significant, not just to me, but to the world. I feel like I can add value to other people’s lives. And I also feel like I have the power to detract value from other people’s lives. I can sometimes be a weapon, that is something that can cause harm. I can hurt other people. I can destroy the wonderful nature around me. I see inside of myself something that is not quite right, like the world around me there is something wrong. Sometimes I am happy. Excited. Enthusiastic. And Filled with hope. Other times I am sad. Lonely. Lethargic. And feel hopeless. I get the sense that I am supposed to be better than I am. Yet, on my own I can’t explain it.

I strive to be a better me. But in all my striving I can never achieve a standard of humanness that satisfies me. What am I comparing myself to? There must be something greater than me. There must be something greater than the world that I live in. If there is not, there is no purpose to life. How can I, and my world, be the greatest thing on offer? It is beautiful. And I really do enjoy my life. But no matter how much joy I experience, I am always left craving more. I have an insatiable appetite for more. Yet, on my own I can’t explain it.

In search for more, I could turn to science and knowledge. I would do well to do so as it offers my many answers to my questions. The vast universe. The complexity of Earth. The intricate construction of the human body. But it does not answer my yearnings for ‘WHY?’ Why am I here? Why do I feel like I have purpose?

I could also turn to philosophy. The love of wisdom. I could reflect inwardly to such a deep level that I am confident even unto death that my soul is real. I could justify love and forgiveness. Hate and violence. Greed and corruption. I could even convince myself of an afterlife. Of divine powers. But philosophy does not answer the question of truth… What are the facts? How can one philosopher draw such different conclusions to another? Reflecting inwardly does not always reveal universal truths.

In the search for more I could turn to religion. If I have the sense of something more, than there are plenty of ‘extras’ available through the various religions. All regions have one thing in common. They all tell me that there is something wrong with the world. BAM. That first thing that really hits home. That’s how I felt before I even started my search.

And that’s where the similarities end, see, most religions tell me I have to do more… Chant. Pray. Meditate. Tithe. And be charitable. They say that if I do more, I will ‘be more’. Some religions are focused on reaching external gods. Others are focused on reaching internal perfection. Yet, I already feel that the more I strive to do, the further I am from achieving my own standard. Let alone the standard of ‘the more’ that I seek.

Then I heard about Jesus. I had grown up listening to people talk about him. He makes sense of my world. We are supposed to marvel at the complexities of our universe. We are supposed to feel the full spectrum of emotion. People will sacrifice themselves for their friends in ultimate acts of love, and at other times allow others to die in spiteful and vindictive ways. Jesus explains greed and corruption. He understands my longing for more.

Jesus’ teachings are found in the Bible. Every word on every page makes sense of me and my world. There is supposed to be death in my world. Pain and sorrow are supposed to be present in our lives. To suggest that I can work my way towards perfection is unrealistic. It is opposed to science, and philosophy. Jesus makes the most sense of me. He makes sense of the way I feel. Jesus does not contradict science and philosophy, he perfects them. He answers the questions that they cannot.

Jesus offers a solution to the problems that I experience with myself and those that I see in the world. A solution that I find more appropriate than any other religion. All the other religions that the world has to offer say that I can achieve it on my own. But Jesus says, I cannot, that resonates with me. That is my experience. In all my striving, I am unable to fix these problems myself, so Jesus offers to fix them for me.

In response to his offer, I choose to follow his teachings. I am here to serve Jesus. I was created to bring glory to him. That is my purpose. The bible teaches countless ways that I can do this. But all of his commands boil down to this… I should love Him with all my heart, soul and mind. In addition I should love the people around me in a similar way, treating them as I would like to be treated. Everything the bible teaches hangs on this command. Yet, Jesus makes it clear that my perfection is not measured by how well I achieve this command. My work is in response to his work. In this simple fact, I am free to be the best human being I can, without fear or condemnation. I can be the best human I can, knowing that one day, in the future, I will be made perfect in the likeness of Jesus himself.

It is not what I can do, but what has been done on my behalf. Jesus makes most sense of my world and that is why I choose to follow him.

The more know about Jesus, the more sense he makes of myself, and the world that I live in. I would wager that it would be true for you as well. You should find a bible… find the book of Luke within it, and start reading about the most sensible thing this world has to offer. Good Luck.

Contradiction #5 – Which First; Beasts or Man?

GEN 1:25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
GEN 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

GEN 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
GEN 2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

Simple answer: Beasts.

Long answer: In one way it is a shame that Chapters, Verses and Subheadings were inserted into the bible after the original authors had finished their works. Here is a good example of a chapter division falling in a pretty awful spot. The Hebrew text would read much smoother if chapter 1 was extended to include 2:1-4. That being said, it doesn’t change much, especially if we understand that 2:4 is in fact a marker for a change in topic.

Chapter 1 is commonly thought of as the historical chapter. While this does hold some other implications if it is taken 100% literally, the common consensus, and the author’s intended reading, is most probably a literal one. Although the author has written with a historical genre, historicity is not his primary concern. What is certain from reading Genesis 1 is the author is concerned with the hierarchical structure of Creation. Using common terms, that structure is: God rules over everything. Man has responsibility for Woman, and Man and Woman rule together over the animals and the earth. This seems to be the primary concern for the author.

From chapter 2:4 the author changes his angle. Confident that the audience now has a clear understanding of the hierarchical structure, he can move on and elaborate on some of the details which ‘he’ finds important. (Note that the details are the things that he finds important, not us, him).

2:4 contains the word  תּולדה  (pronounced toldah). This Hebrew word means family ‘decent’ or historical ‘generations’. It is clear that the authors intent in chapter 2 is to tell the story of mankind in more detail and from a different perspective to chapter 1.

It could be argued (I don’t know how convincingly) that chapter one has a concern with God and creation of the world because this is what it starts with. Following this line of thought, the author would start with the generations of mankind if this were in fact his concern in chapter 2.

Hence, chapter 2 skips the first 5 days of Creation and lands firmly onto man in the 6th day. So it is safe to assume that man is the key character in this chapter’s story. The story of man is fixated on his relationships and vocation.

God’s concern isn’t with the order of creation. And having already introduced his main point of emphasis which is MAN, the author focuses in on man’s relationships. God created animals for man to rule over. He showed man that they were unsuitable for companionship, so woman was created. We can assume (by studying the bible and other ANE literature) that to an ANE (ancient near eastern) Hebraic mind, introducing man first, animals second and woman third led the original audience to understand the relationship between himself, woman and animals.

For a 21st Century audience, it only takes a little intelligent thinking, and a desire to seek the truth to see that the beasts were created first, humans second. There is no contradiction. But I’m sure if you were able to ask the author who was created first, he would look at you with a blank face and reply… “Who flippin’ cares? The whole point I wrote Genesis 1 and 2 was to show that God is our King, and we are here to worship him with our work”.