Hover over Romans 1:20-22 for proof of God's existence, and over Matthew 5:27-28 for Judgment Day’s perfect standard. Then hover over John 3:16-18 for what God did, and over Acts 17:30-31 for what to do.

Friday, January 8, 2010

An Atheist asks a question...

"Do you agree with Einstein that your faith in God is a childlike one?" Anna Sethe

The above question is more than likely a reference to Einstein’s "The word 'god' is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."1

For a number of years I ran kids Bible clubs. Hundreds of kids would gather after school to listen to me tell them Bible stories. My granddad gave me a ventriloquist’s doll, so I used it to teach the kids. I called him "Charlie," and now and then I would tell stories and speak to the kids through him. I was the world’s worst ventriloquist, but the kids didn’t care.

At the end of the year I would have a local bakery bake "the world’s biggest chocolate cake," and have it carried into the club with great fan fare. Then I would let the all the kids have a huge slice. I approached local businesses, told them what I was doing and have them donate candy for the kids. After each club I would have the kids line up for a free mouthful, so not only did they learn about God and hear the gospel, they had a great time when doing it. So did I.

On one of these occasions I had about 100 kids line up for candy, and noticed some of them pushing and shoving at the front of the line. I glanced to the other end and saw that those children were lining up peacefully. As I watched, I realized that I was looking at a line of greed. The greedy brats were at the front, and the quiet sickly humble kids were at the back.

So I did something that gave me great delight. I said, "Stay where you are. If anyone moves out of line they won’t get any candy. Now turn about face." All the kids obeyed, and the line turned around 180 degrees. Then I took great joy in going to the back of the line first and giving the quiet sickly kids their candy, much to the annoyance of the brats who were now at the back.

Have you ever noticed that in this world the proud, the confident, the good-looking and the rich have great advantage? Have you noticed that the poor, the sickly, the homely-looking, and the humble are the ones that often get trodden on? They never seem to be able to get on their feet. Meanwhile, the rich get richer, and the poor get trodden on by the rich. If there was a line of success in this life, the rich are at the front and the poor are at the back. Life seems unfair. Here now is something that gives me great delight. God, in His great wisdom, has turned the line completely around, and He did it in a way that is amazing.

Let me tell you about a man who had a terrible skin disease. He tried every modern remedy he could find. Nothing helped. One day, someone spoke of a person who had a remedy in another country. The soldier traveled to this country to get an appointment. Through a series of circumstances he was able to locate the man’s residence, and speak to one of his assistants. He said who he was, how far he had traveled, and what he was seeking from the man.

After some time, the assistant returned and told the soldier that if he wanted to be cured from the disease he should go and bath in the local river. Then he said something that greatly annoyed the soldier. He told him that to be cured from the ailment, he had to bob up and down in the river seven times. The proud soldier was understandably angered by such stupid talk, and immediately left to go back to his home country.

This paraphrased story is based on the Bible. Naaman was a captain of the Syrian Guard. He was no doubt proud and successful. But he had leprosy. When he found out that Elisha the prophet could heal the disease, he set out to visit him. Elisha didn’t even come to the door. He had his assistant tell Naaman that to be cured he had to bath in the river Jordan seven times. Naaman was angered. He assumed that the prophet would wave his hand over him and he would be cured. Instead he was told to do this crazy thing. He was about to leave the country when someone told him that he had nothing to lose by obeying the prophet. He could either rot and die with incurable leprosy, or he could do what he was told.

He decided to do what Elisha said. Visualize now the scene. Naaman is a proud captain. He is with his soldiers. They watch him wade out into the Jordan river, then down he lowers himself into the water. Once. Then twice. Three times. What he is doing is extremely humbling. Four times. He was probably thinking "This is crazy!" Five. Six. Nothing has happened. He is still a leper. Down he goes for the last time, and up he comes out of the water, with his skin like that of a babes!

What Naaman did was childish. It was foolish. It was an insult to his intellectual dignity. But what he did cured his leprosy. He was cured because of his faith, his humility and his obedience. God was the one who healed him, but the way to his healing came through the very low door of humility.

Here now is how God went to the other end of the line. He stayed with the Naaman-pattern by taking the humble and weak things of this world and used them to turn the tables on the proud. He chose a seeming foolish message as the means of giving eternal life to dying humanity. He stayed with the pattern when He choose the indignity of being born in a cow’s feeding trough, riding into Jerusalem on the back of the donkey, and dying the death of a criminal on a Roman cross. In reference to the birth of Christ, we are told, "He has shown strength and made might with His arm; He has scattered the proud and haughty in and by the imagination and purpose and designs of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of low degree" (Luke 1:51-52, Amplified Bible).

Listen to Jesus address this subject: "In that same hour He rejoiced and gloried in the Holy Spirit and said, I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have concealed these things [relating to salvation] from the wise and understanding and learned, and revealed them to babes (the childish, unskilled, and untaught). Yes, Father, for such was Your gracious will and choice and good pleasure" (Luke 10:21, Amplified Bible).

Look at the Apostle Paul also speak of how God turned the line around and sent the proud and arrogant world to the back of the line:

"We preach Christ (the Messiah) crucified, [preaching which] to the Jews is a scandal and an offensive stumbling block [that springs a snare or trap], and to the Gentiles it is absurd and utterly unphilosophical nonsense. But to those who are called, whether Jew or Greek (Gentile), Christ [is] the Power of God and the Wisdom of God. [This is] because the foolish thing [that has its source in] God is wiser than men, and the weak thing [that springs] from God is stronger than men. For [simply] consider your own call, brethren; not many [of you were considered to be] wise according to human estimates and standards, not many influential and powerful, not many of high and noble birth. [No] for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame. And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are, so that no mortal man should [have pretense for glorying and] boast in the presence of God" (1 Corinthians 1:23-29, Amplified Bible).

More than a thousand years before Christ, the Bible tells us that God "takes the wise in their own craftiness" (Job 5:13). Paul quotes this verse when he says, "Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He takes the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain" (1 Corinthians 3:18-20).

So, I do agree with Einstein. I think that the whole Bible--from start to finish, is childlike. The Bible stories are childlike. Think of it. If you become a believer you will be forced to say, "I believe in Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, Jonah and the whale, Samson and Delilah, David and Goliath, and all the other stories related in the Scriptures."

God used the Naaman-pattern from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation. Christianity is childlike: "Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven'" (Matthew 18:22).

If you are proud, if you have any intellectual dignity, you will never stoop (you will never lower yourself) to come to Christ. What would your friends think? How humbling it would be for you to say that you believe the Bible . . . and there is the wonderful wisdom of God. You are snared by your own sinful pride. Without childlike faith, without humility of the heart, without lowering your proud self, you will find that you will be thrust out of the very gates of Heaven and just find yourself in Hell:

"Let no person deceive himself. If anyone among you supposes that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool [let him discard his worldly discernment and recognize himself as dull, stupid, and foolish, without true learning and scholarship], that he may become [really] wise. For this world's wisdom is foolishness (absurdity and stupidity) with God, for it is written, He lays hold of the wise in their [own] craftiness; and again, The Lord knows the thoughts and reasonings of the [humanly] wise and recognizes how futile they are" (1 Corinthians 2:18-20).

Notes: 1. Letter to philosopher Eric Gutkind, January 3, 1954.