Thursday, June 4, 2015

But God...

"Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select -- doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors" (John B. Watson).
As the acknowledged father of Behavioral Psychology, Watson argued that we need nothing to explain human behavior but the ordinary laws of physics and chemistry. Had his thesis proved correct, humanity would have healed itself of such destructive phenomenon as war, genocide, and ethnic cleansing. Mankind would have created a more peaceful society than currently exists.

As our world currently exists, humanity remains in the grip of religious philosophies and secular ideologies that find themselves unable to cure our selfishness, greed, and hatred. Evil behavior revisits humanity regularly, filling our fragile relationships with terrorism, threat of wars, all as contagious as an epidemic of Ebola.

The Christian Church, on the other hand, repeatedly achieves many things otherwise impossible except for faith in God. The Bible is filled with humanity’s encounters with its own limitations, but Biblical writers seldom stop there. Paul preached in Antioch of Pisidia where he traced Israel’s history from the Exodus out of Egypt all the way down to the Roman Courts where Jesus was observed standing before Pilate and facing death.

Luke further reported that when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Jesus, “they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb.” Normally that would have concluded the story. Under normal circumstances Jesus would have been left to rot—dead by crucifixion. Luke adds two controversial words, however: “But God ...” (Acts 13:29-30 NKJV).

God made the difference then, by raising Jesus from the dead. God made the difference throughout human history by offering divine solutions as alternatives to human failures. Whatever one may believe about Jesus Christ, he lived a life in which humanity has yet to find moral flaw. We cannot imitate Him. We cannot reproduce His quality of life by our human means ... but God.

It is generally recognized in Christian circles that people can and do experience transformed lives by inviting Jesus to live within their hearts and reconfigure their lives. This is a change that multiplied multitudes have experience,  and continue to experience, through the power of those two controversial words - “But God…”
We all know the Church has many faults, as well as many critics! I also know the Church’s mission of human transformation remains historically uncontested and without viable competition. Giovanni Papini was a typical non-believer when he began researching his monumental Life of Christ. Research revealed a sequence of events and experiences that led Papina away from the Jesus of history, and enabled him to discover the living Christ and experience his own personal transformation. (Elson/And Still He Speaks/ 118).

It was while viewing a sunrise in the Swiss Alps that a teenaged British girl encountered the transforming love of God. She had no idea he actually existed until an unplanned moment found her vacationing family without overnight lodging. As sometimes happens, Jill’s family chose to make the best of their lack of adequate planning; they would sleep in their compact car ... but God.

But God … It just so happened that Jill, cramped and resting poorly, rose early the following morning cramped from lack of rest. She rose early the following morning and meandered aimlessly about the small ridge overlooking that popular tourist area. “And there,” she announces, “I watched the sunrise.”

Later, Jill read the Book of Romans in her bible. Her reading revealed to her that God had revealed Himself to humanity in nature. Admitting she had not read much of the Bible, she readily confessed, “I did ‘read’ that sunrise and a huge sense of God’s glory overwhelmed me.”

Jill’s unexpected “conversion” came when the realization of God’s transforming presence confronted her personal sense of unworthiness. Writing as Jill Briscoe, whom many of us have read and some of us have met, she penned the following lines that described her “Conversion”:

            The day breaks softly, filling me with awe.
                        It seems the other side of heaven’s door.
            That God forgives my sin, to me is plain. . .
                        Today, ‘spite of my sin - the sun doth rise again!’ 1

 Civilization has achieved a high degree of technological achievement. In spite of this, the transformation of the human heart still remains a spiritual metamorphosis beyond reach of humanity’s ability to re-create ... “But God.

I am
and now you know the rest of the story.
            1 Jill Briscoe, By Hook or By Crook. (Waco: Word Publishing Co., 1987) p. 37.


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