This Idea Radically Changed How I View The World

As you grow in your faith, you’ll occasionally come across of a piece of theology or an idea or a perspective that changes everything.

One of the biggest ideas that changed everything for me is Common Grace.

This specific term comes from the Reformed school of thought, but don’t head for the hills if you’re not a 5 point Calvinist (I am not either). The idea is shared by many circles. In fact, this logic is often celebrated by even the staunchest Arminian.

Common Grace is a deep issue, though, with many possible implications depending on how it’s interpreted and how far it’s taken. Much of the reading online comes from Reformed commentators and writers so it can be taken to a place you might or might not agree with, but the essence of this idea is agreed upon by the majority of Christians. It is quite apparent in scripture, after all. I hope to expand upon Common Grace in future posts, but I’d like to introduce it here.

What’s the big idea? 

At its core, Common Grace refers to the gifts (and therefore grace) God bestows that are common to all people. This is drastically different from saving grace; these common gifts are given to all, not only those that have accepted salvation.

Most Christians agree that God reveals himself in the expanse and awful power of nature. A roaring waterfall, the vibrant color of fall leaves, and the serene rainbow that emerges after a thunderstorm are signs God shows to all people.

But He has given us much more than nature itself. Life could be devoid of color, music, taste, and fun. If you watch the movie The Giver you’ll see this presented and see how possible it is. None of what makes life enjoyable is necessary. But God showed grace to all people in creating those things.

Think about just a few of the things you experience with your senses.

God didn’t have to create sugar cane, cumen, rosemary, pepper, salt, cacao, or coffee beans. Food and drink could merely be fuel, lacking taste or texture of any kind.

God didn’t have to create pine, cedar, lavender, grass, smoke, rain, lime, cheese, leather, flowers, or apples to have a distinct scent. If taste is unnecessary, so is smell.

God didn’t have to create octaves, thirds, major, minor, rhythm, pitch, or even sound itself. We could communicate by means that aren’t auditory.

God didn’t have to create red, blue, maroon, periwinkle, cobalt, orange, azure, yellow, sea foam green, cyan, aquamarine, magenta, beige, black, gray, or navy. There’s no need for color or texture.

But God created these things.

Why? The omnipotent Creator didn’t need these things. Why create so much extra stuff that is completely unnecessary to life?  It’s simple.

God created these things for us.

Everything you’ve every tasted, heard, seen, smelled, felt, or experienced has been created by God for you.

How beautiful is that?

This radically changed how I viewed the world. The world God created isn’t some decrepit vacuum that only holds the sinners to be harvested. It’s a gift. It’s good in and of itself because it’s been given value by its Creator. My Creator.

This really changes the Christian vs. worldly dichotomy that was the dogma for approaching culture for decades. Christians should engage and create culture, not separate themselves from it to create a watered down version of their own.

Rap music, a filet mignon, football, cap toe derbies, train-side graffiti, a Ferrari, ice sculptures, knit ties, barbecued ribs, Footloose, motorsports, bluegrass, succulent gardens, Interstellar, strawberry smoothies, and a child’s finger painting are enjoyable because God allows them to be.

Just as the Bible has authority because God authored it, so Creation has value because God created it. And these things do have a real value as Creation, but their ultimate reason for existence is to point to our Creator.

So I want to encourage you, Church. Open your eyes to see all Creation as valuable. Realize that everything you use and/or experience is good, because its Creator gives it value. Be thankful for everything you eat, see, smell, touch, and partake of; it’s a gift God has made common to all.

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Atheistic Worship

This post is directed at atheistic worship. Atheistic worship might seem kind of impossible though, how can you worship something you don’t believe in?

Do you just get together with a bunch of other non-believers and gather to non-worship? No, of course not. That’s like asking non-smokers if they get together and non-smoke.

But we still press those who do not share our faith, and rightly so. We sharpen our apologetic swords and rush into the non-believers’ camp on the battlefield of belief.  We have many tools in our arsenal, and we wield each with precision.

How can they not see God? How can you look at Niagra Falls or even the sky and not admit to God? How did life come from non-life without someone to direct it? Why would the early church have endured persecution and executions for a Man that wasn’t what He said He was?

And so on and so on for endless conversations. We leave the battle drained and frustrated. We win a few, but the majority don’t budge an inch. How can they not respond?  We question the non-believers, but often share their same attitude.

Hold the phones, Josiah. I’m a child of the King. I’m redeemed. I believe. I had a response.

That you did, and I commend you for it.

But you still might be sharing the atheists’ attitude.  Allow me to present you with a question, much like the ones we throw at non-believers.

How can we experience God’s infinite grace and not respond in worship? 

If you ask any semi-mature Christian they’ll gladly tell you that God’s grace has saved them from Hell. Their sin was placed on Christ’s shoulders, and God’s wrath that was deserved of them was then poured out on Jesus, the spotless Lamb. They’ll say Christ’s resurrection 3 days later allows them to live a full life here on Earth, but more importantly it allows them to have an eternal life, an everlasting life.

That’s heavy. My cross, my lashes, my nails, my crucifixion, my sin was imputed on God’s sinless Son. The only thing I have to do is accept this gift of salvation in faith.

That should evoke an overwhelming response, right? That’s a pretty big deal.

And we do have an overwhelming response initially, to accept salvation, but then our fire slowly dwindles.  

We sing the same songs, listen to the same sermons, gather with the same believers that we did when we were passionate, but it’s different now.

We don’t feel any different week to week. We don’t look forward to church like we used to. We no longer have that sweet hour of prayer; we’re doing good to fake 10 minutes now. We don’t sing like we used to. We don’t feel The Spirit’s presence like we used to. We’re just going through the motions now.

We’re faced with the evidence of God’s grace and mercy everywhere, everyday. But then we don’t respond. Just like the atheists we so often criticize.

That is atheistic worship. The atheist is faced with evidence of God and lacks a response. We do the same exact thing in being faced with the evidence of God in our lives and exercising a shallow worship devoid of passion.

So I want to challenge you, Church. Rekindle the fire you first felt at your conversion. Fall in love with Christ all over again. Remind yourself of your sinful condition and Christ’s unrelenting love for you in spite of it. And then respond.

Don’t have empty, atheistic worship.