A Need to Know Basis

knowledge

Knowing things gives people a sense of security, a sense of privilege, even a sense that we have an advantage over others. We like to know things especially if someone else doesn’t know what we know. It is common these days to say that “knowledge is power.” Knowledge is an asset and a form form of currency that we exchange for things that we need. Being rewarded for knowing things begins when we are toddlers and lasts throughout our lives. Whether we realize it or not we spend parts of every day using the knowledge we have to get what we do not have or what we want more of. Knowledge is indeed a powerful and productive possession for humanity.

Knowledge of course is not limited to math, science, history, business, etc. Theology is ripe with content that can be known. Knowing things about God is an essential element of faith and spirituality. By faith we believe/proclaim that God is creator, redeemer, restorer, and sustainer of life. We know this way down deep in our hearts. It is our personal knowledge of God and it gives us the conviction to live and act in a certain way. Even when we do not integrate our faith into our daily living many people still hold on to this knowledge of God because it is our collective truth about God (our true knowledge.) Theologians and philosophers have been writing exhaustively on this subject for thousands of years and do not seem to be slowing down. Man’s inability to record everything about God might be a sign or proof of the existence of God (to borrow and adapt an Anselmian argument.) The things we know about God shape the way we believe and behave in faith.

Yet we should readily admit that we do not know everything about God. In reality we should confess we know very little, but that very little is enough for a lifetime of faith and service. We know what God’s love is like because He has forgiven so much in our life, but we do not know the boundaries or limits of His love (if any exist.) We know what God’s imagination is like based on what we see in creation, but there is so much apart from earth that we can not know or see/experience. We can sing and write about the power/presence/preeminence of God that holds us together in times of great trial and turmoil, but the tragedy in our world makes us wonder sometimes how God seemed to be either unaware or helpless when certain things are happening. We can walk in the glory of God, but experience in that walk is by faith and not by sight. Our knowledge of God is without a doubt limited, but somewhere way down deep we know that God is real, that He loves us, that He is present in our victories and defeats, that He is for us and not against us. Knowledge of God is a bit mysterious, but it is a mystery that we accept by faith and trust that what God has revealed is exactly what we need when we need it.

We believe in and trust in God not because we prove His existence or have captured secret artifacts of His workings, but because He reveals Himself to us and through that encounter we pursue Him in faith, hope and love. Our knowledge of God is best understood in real time. Not in what He did or what He promised to do. Those details apply to our faith, but in an inclusive way for God’s eternal kingdom. Our best knowledge of God is for today – for right now – and we live breath by breath in His grace and holiness.

Attempting to identify and interpret the working of God in the world is fool’s gold. Our calling and pursuit is to bear witness in the present to everyone/everything that God is love and in His love is both a present hope and a future glory (also a forgiven past!) What God is doing in the future is God’s business and we may or may not be a part of it. What He is doing in the present is very much our business and by faith we are participating in Godly work to see the creation reclaimed and restored. Ours is not to know tomorrow, but to live in and for today. Know this, today is full of potential and promise to be near to God and have Him draw us near to Him. Our calling and purpose is not to plan our life around what we think God is going to do or should do with the world. His plan for us is to know Him, trust Him, walk in Him, and rest in His sovereign love.That is a truth worth knowing.

I am on a need to know basis with God. And that is alright with me.

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Sunday – November 16, 2014 / Proper 28 / 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10

1Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. 2For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! 4But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; 5for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. 6So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; 7for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him.

Think Thanks

Keep your eyes open to mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.  – R.L. Stephenson

I hope that your mind has turned the page towards a new month and a new opportunity to focus on work and life from a new perspective. Each month seems to have its own personality and buzzwords to help us focus. December is “the hope, joy, peace, and love of Christ.” January has “new beginnings.” February is “love and romance.” April is “baseball.” July is “freedom and national celebration.” September is “football” and of course October is “fall and harvest.” Then comes November, which calls us to be “thankful.” The whole month is an opportunity for us to think thanksgiving all month before we actually get our Thanksgiving on around the turkey, the dressing, and the pumpkin pie.

Perhaps you don’t really need the calendar to turn to November in order to be thankful. Instead, I hope that you have reflected so deeply that you realize your life and family has much to be thankful for. Among the items we can/should recall on our thanksgiving list are: our health, our freedom, our calling, our connection to others, our role as a minister in child and family healing, our hope for a better tomorrow, our belief in a God of grace and mercy. These are just a few of our commonalities as a people with much to be thankful. You will no doubt think of other examples, distinct to your life and personal situation, which make you thankful.

Choosing to reflect on and embrace the areas of our lives that we are thankful for can be helpful and healing. When we choose to confess our thanksgiving, we recognize that something has happened to us that we aren’t necessarily deserving of. While we can’t always explain why or how we have received such blessings in life, we recognize that our lives would be very different if we lived in hunger, had no purpose in our calling, and/or had nothing obvious to be hopeful about. It is hard to reason why we are blessed in certain ways and others are not, but life isn’t always easy to explain. Sometimes we are better off to accept things the way they are and consider ourselves blessed in a way that we could not guarantee on our own. This acceptance may keep us from wasting blessings and resources that make life comfortable and/or easy.

But what we should be really thankful for is not our stuff. It is our people – our relationships in life. Our real blessings in life can be measured by those who have sacrificed and invested greatly in us. From our parents to our school/work mentors to our pastors to even (surprisingly) political leaders, many people have made our life different – better – than we could have on our own. We didn’t necessarily ask for their help, but it was given and we are better for it. We can choose to recognize that fact or ignore it believing fate has brought us this far. We have many people to thank for making our life meaningful, beautiful, and hopeful.

Be aware that human nature usually resists being overly thankful and giving honor to those that have blessed us. It is typical for us to just assume they know we are thankful. When we choose not to be thankful or give recognition, we are not being accountable for life and its circumstances. We are trying to convince ourselves and others that we are self-made, solely responsible for our own success. What we are is self-righteous. The only medicine for a self-righteous soul is a dose of humility that helps us see how many people have provided for and invested in us along the way. Choosing to ignore that our lives are blessed – by God, by family, by friends – is an act of self-reliance that may be the biggest cover up story in our lives. By giving thanks we acknowledge the work and gifts of others that have made us who we are and helped us to get where we are.

Life is rich because of other people and how they have blessed you. Be thankful. Tell them. Pass on the blessings to others. Celebrate your true blessings in life. Give God the glory for it all.

Don’t wait your whole life to give thanks to God and others. Start a habit today, this month of being thankful for the people in your life.  See if you can go the entire month thanking everybody you remember that has blessed your life. Feel free to thank people that don’t easily come to mind for doing something spectacular of you. A good  “thanks” is never wasted. By acting intentionally thankful for all of November (not just on the 27th) you will likely create a habit that will continue naturally that can be a theme in every month of the year. You might just turn into the kind of person that thinks thanks continually. If you do, you will see the world in a brand new way and the world will catch a view of you that, perhaps, has never been seen before.

“Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”- Colossians 3:15-17