“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12
The generally perceived paradigm of humanity is “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.” This gives birth to two polarities: asceticism or epicureanism. The epicurean seizes the day because there is no substantial tomorrow and drinks in life and revels in what is. The ascetic, however, is quite leery of this philosophy. He or she chooses rather to limit pleasure for a more spartan lifestyle. By severe treatment of the body or by living frugally, an ascetic pursues a deeper quality of life based upon denial of self rather than the unbridled embrace of gratification.
The sobering reality is that the ascetic and the epicurean both arrive at the same destination. If there is no faith in our portfolio, the next transition at death is deeply difficult.
People make anything and everything out of religion. Some love it. Some hate it. Most people believe theirs is the most reliable. Others declare “Who needs religion? It only lets us down.” It is ironic that Jesus, the most significant human who ever lived, had such antipathy for religion. God raised up the Jewish nation, not because they were better than anyone else, but because their need was identical to every human who would ever live. This is the cradle of the story of authentic faith.
We cannot rely upon religion to present God authentically. People subtract. We add. We modify. We mess it up. This is often to gain control or influence over others. Remember the death and taxes quote from Benjamin Franklin? You can count on humans to oppress one another for personal and social gain. I know this sounds harsh, especially if you have hope that humanity is evolving to be better. We simply are not.
This is why death and taxes can be counted on 100%. No one lives forever, and people will always take advantage of one another. There will always be One to whom we will give an account for the stewardship of our lives, both by how we lived and how we treated others. There will always be people who oppress others. We are corrupt. The system is flawed. Cain’s killing of his brother Abel 100%. This is the nature of the imperfection in which we find ourselves. Life is a gift to be used wisely – because life only lasts so long.
There is a Story which does not result in misplaced religious fervor nor does it end in manipulation. This Story must be allowed to interpret itself. It does not need a religious leader to make sense of it. The Bible is accessible to every person. There is one originator and one messenger. He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together. This Story has little to do with religion and everything to do with true authority and the intentional plan of our Creator.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…” – 2 Timothy 3:16
“So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” – 2 Peter 1:19-21
Time to figure out where we fit into the Story, right?
Dave and Burnadette