Summary: The bible is the account, through poetry, history, song, prophecy, law, wisdom, gospel, letters, homilies of the History of God’s redemption in Christ, an invitation to life in Christ, and the promise of the future victory in Christ. God’s salvation in Jesus is the center of the entire story.
Last week we focused what is the Bible and how should we interpret it. I put forth the scriptures are the inspired, authentic self-revelation of God and as such have primary and foundational authority in all matters of what we believe, what we value, and how we live. The week before, we focused on the purpose of the Scriptures. We learned the Bible is God’s self-revelation that pulls back the curtain for us to know who God is, who we are, the purpose of our lives, and the destiny of the world. We also learned of seven distinct blessings which come from engaging with them. This week, we will look to the scriptures to tell us the story of God and our role in it.
Before I begin, I must tell you that Father’s day is both a celebration and time of reflection for me. You see, my father passed away a couple of years ago. He was a good man, a good provider, a good husband, a good father and a good Christian. After he retired, he volunteered at a church for 15 years by going to the hospital to visit people and offer communion. In saying all that, I know that others didn’t have such good memories of their father. They remember broken families, abusers, addicts, alcoholics and unloving disciplinarians. I also understand that this experience makes it hard to even consider God as a Father or in using the more familiar translation of ABBA, as a loving Daddy. These fractured relationships also make it hard for many in our society to come into a relationship with or understanding of God.
This week, I was reading an article about Steve Jobs, the mastermind behind Apple. It told of a boy rejected by his birth parents, only to be adopted by a working class couple who strived to teach him and love him. However, Steve, as bright as he was, could never come to understand why his birth mother would ever send him away. It always haunted him. As he wrestled with God on this, he asked a question of his family pastor regarding why God would allow suffering? I am sad to say the pastor failed to engage the bright young man in dialog and as a result, Steve turned from all faith choosing rather to believe in oneself. Leadership Journal – Winter 2012, p.21
He said in a Wall street Journal article two months before he passed last October:
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose." Steve Jobs Best Quotes, Wall Street Journal (8-24-11)
I believe Steve Job’s had the question right. And I believe his answer was the only logical one for someone who believed only in himself. For all intensive purposes, Steve Jobs understanding of the universe places him in the 5% of the American population who does not or will not believe in God.
According to the authors of the book America's Four Gods, Americans divide into four major understandings of God.
First is the Authoritative God. The Authoritative God is very involved in the world to help people and does judge evildoers in this life. Even so, he loves, and is seen as a Father figure. The author's research shows that 31 percent of Americans have this understanding of God.
Second is the Benevolent God. The Benevolent God is very involved in this world to help people but does not feel anger toward evildoers and does not judge anyone. Twenty-four percent of Americans have this understanding of God.
Third is the Critical God. The Critical God does not involve himself in the affairs of this world or its people, but he does take careful note of how people live and will judge them in the afterlife, holding them to account for evils done. Sixteen percent of Americans have this understanding of God.