Thursday, May 06, 2004

Thursday's Theology Thing: Luck

Pronunciation: 'l&k
1 [n] an unknown and unpredictable phenomenon that causes an event to result one way rather than another; "bad luck caused his downfall"; "we ran into each other by pure chance"
2 [n] an unknown and unpredictable phenomenon that leads to a favorable outcome; "it was my good luck to be there"; "they say luck is a lady"; "it was as if fortune guided his hand"
3 [n] your overall circumstances or condition in life (including everything that happens to you); "whatever my fortune may be"; "deserved a better fate"; "has a happy lot"; "the luck of the Irish"; "a victim of circumstances"; "success that was her portion"

Webster defines it as "a force that brings good fortune or adversity", and "the events or circumstances that operate for or against an individual". Interestingly enough, Webster also links to the noun "success".

"Luck" is a word that is used quite frequently in our language. Whether it refers to a person having good or bad luck, a lucky streak, or just luck in general. Before you ask, no, the word "luck" is not in the Bible (unless you count the Message, but that doesn't count, because it's a paraphrase).

There are two verses that I want to give today, both of them relate to luck and chance, but in different ways.

Ecc. 9:11
I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

I think I may have mentioned it before, but Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Read it through in one sitting one time, it's only 12 chapters. It gives you a great view of the hopelessness and futility of life without God (the last two verses summarizes the whole book).

But anyways, the author states how people don't always receive their proper rewards (ie. the race doesn't always go to the swift, battle to the strong, food to the wise, etc.). Instead, we are all subject to these powers of time and chance.

Now, consider the following verse:

Pro. 16:33
The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the LORD .

One translation (and I can't remember which one, sorry) translates it as "the dice are thrown, but the outcome belongs to God".

This verse is pretty clear-cut: God is in control of everything - even what we think is chance or chaos. When you think on that for awhile, it's quite an amazing thought. There is nothing that occurs in the entire universe that God hasn't allowed to happen. Some might argue that chaos does in fact exist, but it is an authority or power that God created. If that is in fact true, is it really chaos? How can chaos truly exist if God has the final say?

Before I discovered this verse, I had always viewed myself as unlucky. If I were to flip a coin ten times, on the average I would guess it correctly three or four times. I had always just accepted the fact that I was an unlucky person by nature. This verse really puts it into a new light for me though. If events that I consider random or chance normally don't fall in my favor, I understand that God for whatever reason has decided for things to things to happen to me that way. Maybe I need to learn patience, maybe I need to learn to trust in God more, maybe God truly does have a sense of humor, and now that I'm in on the joke, I can laugh at it too (honestly people, I will throw something into a trash can from a foot away, and it will miss, bounce off something, or somehow land and balance on the SIDE of the trash can!) It is really amazing and amusing at the same time.

So this week, whenever you are faced with what you consider a random event or a happening of chance, remember that it's not as random as you may have originally thought!

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Thursday's Theology Thing: Foolishness

Hehe, when I started to write for today's Theology Thing, the first thing that popped into mind is how I like to tease my 9 year-old nephew. Whenever we visit, him and I usually wrestle with either for fun. Since I have him beat by about 100 pounds and many years of experience of wrestling my older brother (ie. I know what moves hurt ;) ), I will almost always get in some type of submission hold that he can't get out of. The only way I release him is if he says the magic phrase: "Darryl is the coolest, Cameron is the foolest!" Don't worry about his self-esteem getting hurt, he knows it's all in fun and that I think he's a great kid.

So anyways, back to foolishness. Here's Hypervine's take on it:
Pronunciation: 'fU-lish
1. [adj] (informal) having or revealing stupidity; "ridiculous asinine behavior"; "a dopey answer"; "a dopey kid"; "some fool idea about rewriting authors' books"
2. [adj] devoid of good sense or judgment; "foolish remarks"; "a foolish decision"

If you look futher down the page you see the 1913 Webster's take on foolish: void of understanding.

There are a few verses that I want to look at, all in I Corinthians.

I Cor. 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those being lost, but to us being saved, it is the power of God.

I Cor. 1:27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

I Cor. 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God; for it is written, "He takes the wise in their own craftiness."

If you read I Corinthians, you see the words "foolish" or "foolishness" a total of ten times, and eight of those times are in the first three chapters. Read I Cor. 1-3 to get the whole theme.

I thought it was odd that there is a lot of things being considered foolish out there; namely, the non-Christian's view of Christianity, and God's view of the wisdom of this world.

Consider wisdom for a minute, arguably the opposite of foolishness. Wisdom is the most cherished possession (more so than strength or power or riches), because it is through wisdom that all of these other characteristics are obtained (read about Solomon in II Chr. 1:7-12).

To the Christian, I would say that the ultimate wisdom that we have ever received is the truth about God, and what it means to be a Christian. In the eyes of the world, however, it is all foolishness. If you are unashamed to be a Christian in public, I am sure that at some point you were mocked for your beliefs.

To the non-believer, I can understand why Christianity would come across as foolishness (or rather, I can understand their logic in thinking so). For example, how can we become more by making ourselves less? How is that we become elevated when we lower ourselves to serve others? How is it possible to consider ourselves free when we claim that we are slaves to Christ? How is it possible to claim to "die daily", yet at the same time be alive in the Spirit?

On the other hand, take the wisdom that the world has accumulated from the beginning of time. When that wisdom lacks God, it is all foolishness in God's eyes.

Let's look at some examples of the world's wisdom. The most important things are wealth, fame, and power (through God's wisdom, we see them for the unsatisfying things that they are). It is through our own efforts that we become better people (we as Christians understand that it is Christ's work in our lives that make us more complete as people). The world cherishes freedom, and most consider themselves to be free (but the Bible shows us that everyone ultimately serves God or Satan. The difference is that in not serving God, you end up being slaves to many things at the same time, such as your job, addictions, and the burdens of the world in general).

There are several examples of wisdom vs. foolishness that you can see in the comparison between Christianity and the world. This week, try to think of some (from either the world's viewpoint of serving Christ, or vice-versa).

Monday, April 26, 2004

Back to the Basics

Do you know what it is that you believe? And do you know why you believe that? Is it because you were raised that way by your family? Did you hear it from someone or read about it in a book or magazine? Is what you believe the TRUTH? Have you read it in the Bible? How do you KNOW?

These are tough questions for some of us, but we NEED to know the answer not only to make sure we are on the right track with our faith, but also so that we are leading non-believers down the right path as well. Yesterday in Church we were talking about Unity, and as a part of the sermon, the Pastor discussed basic doctrine. Many people don't really know what it is they believe, and if they do, sometimes they don't know why they believe it.

My husband and I were talking about a Bible Study he is a part of, and we were discussing that sometimes it is necessary to get "back to the basics" with our faith. We need to go back to the gospel and make sure we have a solid foundation of what it is that we believe, because Satan and those who believe differently will try their best to change our beliefs.

Getting back to the basics isn't always easy. It takes a desire to study, and learn and ask questions. It means prayer, reading the Bible, talking with your Pastor and church members, and making a personal investment in knowing and understanding God's plan for your life.

What do you do to get back to the basics of your faith? Feel free to write about it on your own site and post in the comments section, or if you do not have a site, feel free to post directly to the comments section.