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Last night at REACH we started study in the book of Genesis and dipped our toes in the controversial subjects of evolution, creation, and Christianity. We took time to make sure we understood the major categories of the arguments and wanted to ensure that everyone is aware that it’s often not purely a black and white issue on the subject. For instance, many theists believe in variance within species–but that variance (microevolution) is viewed as a product of design and not random chance or chaos. We took time to talk about some of the challenges in fossil records regarding the theory of evolution but spent the majority of our time talking about the challenge of evolution in the face of human reaction to conscience, beauty, justice, benevolence, and evil. How do we understand our desire for music, art, relationship, guilt, and hope in terms of chemical evolution or raw biology. Here’s a quote from C.S. Lewis I shared last night.
“If we didn’t believe in decent behavior, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently? The truth is ,we believe in decency so much–we feel the Rule or Law pressing on us so–that we can’t bear to face the fact that we’re breaking it, and consequently we try to shift the responsibility. For you notice that it’s only for our bad behavior that we find all these explanations. We put our bad temper down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves. Well, those are the two points I wanted to make tonight. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave a certain way, and can’t really get rid of it. Secondly, that they don’t in fact behave that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.” The Case for Christianity
I’m putting together a survey in the hopes of REACH doing its own research about what young adults think about God, religion, and the church in north Dallas. I can guess what some thoughts are but craving to do our own research. Two days ago I did a “mock up” version of a survey (*note not a ‘bait and switch’ this is genuine research) to help us better know what people believe. Here are the first two I interviewed…hopefully more to come.
1. Do you go to church? Describe your thoughts about the church/organized religion?
Person #1 I don’t care about it…not a bad thing something I don’t care about..good for some..but not for me…
Person #2 I don’t go every Sunday …I think it’s good for some people but kind of boring…not everyone thinks so…my experience has been it’s pretty boring.
2. Are churches or Christians attractive/appealing to you…why or why not?
P #1 I’m not sure…religion is not for me because I’m not interested in it…
P #2 Sort of…I used to go to [large well known church in the area]….the pastors were appealing…other friends were appealing…I went from freshman through senior year in High School. It was big…lots of my friends went there…i went to retreats and stuff..was fun.
3. What do you think Christians don’t get/understand?
P #1 A lot of Christians are single-minded would rather force their idea on you than accept another person’s ideas…for instance I had a friend in HS that for a month every day tried to convert me…constantly asking me to go to church…this kinda thing happened to my dad as well…people pushing stuff on him as well…i don’t like that.
P #2 I don’t understand…
4. If you could ask a pastor any question…what would it be?
P #1 What is your motivation to do what you do? I understand why people follow that religion but you’ve got to have something more to preach it…and I’d be curious to know what that is…
P #2 How did the pastor decide…make him want to be what he’s doing today?
5. What is your number one question regarding religion or Christianity or skepticism?
P #1 I don’t know
P #2 Can you still be a Christian if you drink? Cuss? Lying? Lust?
6. Do you believe there are a number of ways to find God?
P #1 I don’t believe in God…if God existed there would be a number of ways to access him
P #2 There are plenty of ways to find God…it’s what you believe. Someone could totally be a Muslim and find God. I would never try to make someone believe in Jesus—it’s totally whatever you believe.
7. What’s not appealing about attending church?
P #1 They are all very nice….I’m just not sharing the same beliefs as them…don’t see the need…
P #2 I went to church all through high school…I just really want to party right now.
8. What do you think about Jesus Christ? Do you believe in Him? Is He the only way to God?
P #1 I think he thought he was right…but really he was wrong about thinking he was the only way to find God.
P #2 I never really thought about it…I think Jesus thought he was the only way…so he wasn’t lying…but he really isn’t the only way.
This is a scary question I know. Sometimes in Christian circles the question of desire gets thrown under the bus of the doctrine of indwelling sin. This is usually with good reason. We truly are sinful. It is true that we are born into a state of rebellion towards God that infects our motives and desires (Gen 6:5). Add to that truth the reality of living in a culture in which our “feelings” are elevated to a place of authority and you’ve got a perfect storm. If I “feel” in love with this girl I will stay married…if I “fall” out of the feelings of love I will leave. This is wrong. Don’t trust your feelings and desires as authoritative.
But if we’re not careful we can forget that the grace God offers is something that changes our motives and desires to something that can please him. The hope of the gospel is that God does give us new desires according to the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 6:14). Note–these are desires that flow from faith in Jesus as your Lord and God. So, the main question regarding desires is understanding the difference between a sinful desire and a holy desire (you have both). Christians make wise decisions that line up with the word of God while asking Him to increase holy desires and repenting of sinful ones (Gal. 5:16-17).
So…some questions to ask if this is a new concept….
1. Do my desires line up with the Word of God? Is there anything I’m wanting that Scripture doesn’t allow for? Granted this can sometimes be difficult where it appears Scripture is silent…but if your wondering if it’s okay to continue slandering your friend or sleeping with your boyfriend because you really desire to it’s a no-brainer. Those are desires of the flesh not the Spirit. So again, so many good things we desire are not sinful in themselves. The Bible affirms God’s creation of food, sleep, recreation, relationship, marriage, sex, art, children, work, etc. To want them is not sinful, but can become sinful if they become a god we worship.
2. Do my desires for this relationship/career/job/apartment lead me closer in some way to my greatest desire of knowing Jesus well? In other words–for this desire to be something God is pleased with and cultivating in you–it’s got to ultimately be about you finding deep satisfaction in Jesus Christ. Think about it. God’s not going to help you commit idolatry and break his first commandment of no other gods (Ex. 20:3).
3. Do my desires flow from faith? Rom 4:23 says, “whatever does not flow from faith is sin.” In other words, if you can’t trust God in acting on this desire or truly thank God for this desire you should question it. This sort of goes along with #2 but its important to ask if this desire comes from your personal trust in Jesus or not.
So if you’re wanting to start a job or a new career path or you want to get married or have children–you need to recognize that God put some of those desires in you when he fashioned you. Moreover, if you want to glorify Jesus in those things that only something He can cause you to want (Rom 3:23; 1 Cor 12:3).
So what do you want to do? Psalm 37:4 says, “delight yourself in the Lord and he’ll give you the desires of your heart.”
At a recent REACH meeting we discussed the problem of knowing God’s will. For many young adults this question can plague you like a
Nickelback bad song that gets stuck in your head. You think you’re making progress in a relationship or a career path and suddenly something goes bad. You break up. You get fired. You really aren’t awesome in that subject after all (I thought I was going to be an accountant until my first week of Accounting 101). So how do we ensure that we are making right decisions? Or how do we escape the fear that we’re going to makes some tragic decision that will cause us to to end up working in a job we hate, or marrying the wrong person or living in the wrong place etc.?
There is good news to you if you’re searching for God’s guidance. He hasn’t gone silent. Many people think of God as a distant Being that wound up this large clock called Earth and took a giant step back and now is on to other things. If you wanted to know what he desired for his creation you’re just out of luck–you should have got with him early on–he’s pretty busy with other things now.
Just not so. Not only has he spoken to us every day of our lives (see Ps. 19) but he has revealed his will in his Word called the Bible (2 Tim 3:16). If you’re a skeptic at least read the Bible. Insert confident comment, “I have read the Bible.” Insert my comment “really..you’ve really read like a whole book of the Bible like Mark or John?” Insert strange look to the floor…”well…I’ve read parts.” How about this…before you confidently say you don’t believe God has revealed his will in the Bible at least read a full book first (try Mark).
There are promises of God’s desire to guide us….and it’s not just through supernatural visions (we will get to all that) but through your own desires (really!), the people God has put around you, wisdom from the Church (followers of Jesus Christ), and good ‘ole common sense. I want to post a few markers on being certain of God’s will. For now, meditate on these promises of God’s desire to guide us, and show us how to live…
“And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong” (Isaiah 58)
[Christ will].. “give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:79 ESV)
If you’re feeling like you’re in a scorched place or sitting in darkness and confusion…there is hope in a God who guides.