Reason in the Service of Faith (6)
There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14.12
Made for God
Human beings were made for God – to know, enjoy, and glorify Him. We fulfill our purpose in life, our reason for being, when, in every aspect of our lives, all our speech and works, we experience God’s glory and give evidence of the existence of God and of His wisdom, goodness, beauty, truth, and love (Rom. 5.1, 2; 2 Cor. 3.12-18; 1 Cor. 10.31). Knowing, loving, and serving God is our highest calling and the source of our greatest pleasure and joy (Jn. 17.3; Ps. 16.8, 10).
This is what Solomon meant in the book of Ecclesiastes by living “under the heavens” rather than “under the sun” (Eccl. 1.13, 14).
Paul explains that sin causes people to “fall short” of this purpose (Rom. 3.23). Rather than live in such a way as to demonstrate gratitude and give honor to God, people seek to fulfill their own self-interests and to indulge themselves by whatever means gratify their lusts (cf. Rom. 1.18-32).
Having turned away from the truth, people become trapped in a spiritual and moral, downward spiral of sin, disappointment, discouragement, corruption, and death.
Under sail in a sea of lies
To those who are caught in the grip of sin and under the influence of the father of lies, their chosen way of life seems to make perfectly good sense (Prov. 14.12). At least, it seems to make sense. They can make their own decisions about what’s most important, how they ought to live, what they owe to others or society, and what they can do with their time, money, and body.
People who live this way for many years come to believe this is simply the way everyone else lives, too. Granted, it may be necessary to make adjustments here and there, to accommodate the wishes of those in power over us – employers, say, or civil magistrates. Even to compromise on certain convictions they used to consider inviolable.
But all such subordinating of their wills to the demands of those in power or the spiritual and moral temper of the times is done in an effort to get what they want. Even if what they want has changed from what they once hoped to achieve. Life becomes pragmatic and morals merely relative when you have shoved off from God and set your sails into the winds of lies and mere self-interest.
The chosen lifestyle of those who are immersed in sin seems to be right. It makes sense to them to live as they do, even though they have their share of frustration, disappointment, and defeat. They know struggles and setbacks, but they continue to believe that, if they just stay their chosen course in life – the course that seems right to them – then, sooner or later, everything will work out as it should.
Meanwhile, they continue to drift further and further from God’s purpose for their lives, even though they become more and more convinced that their chosen way of living is right for them.
Such people are still reasoning beings, but they have used reason in a way that runs contrary to God’s thinking and purposes. Their reason has become clouded and confused because they want what they want rather than what God wants. They have built up around them an edifice of ideas, opinions, and poorly considered beliefs, and have set up shop within that framework, thinking it’s the right kind of accommodations for them.
They have erected over their heads a roof of wrong belief, and their chosen habitation seems just right for them. All their highest thoughts, hopes, and aspirations rise up to the ceiling of their worldview, but they can go no further. Their thinking and longing will never enable them, on their own, to break through the roof tiles of their wrong-believing worldview to discover the larger vistas of light and truth that lie beyond.
This is where we come in.
As we get to know the people around us and take the time to listen to their stories and views, we will understand more about their chosen worldview – that way of life that seems right to them. And then we can begin looking for ways to focus the light of truth through the cracks and fissures in the ceiling of their thinking – which we will help to create by our patient and reasoned explanation of the hope that is within us.
By asking questions, exploring our friends’ views more carefully, and inviting them to explain their own way of thinking, we might be able to help them shift around the ceiling tiles of their worldview just enough to let the light of truth begin to show through.
And, at the same time, we will explain, in the most reasonable terms, how the Gospel of Jesus Christ fills the gaps and buoys the hopes of all who believe in Him.
1. Where do wrong-believers get their ideas about what to seek and how to live?
2. Why is it unwise and unloving to sit by and allow people we know to believe whatever they want, whatever seems right to them?
3. What’s one question you might use to start a conversation about someone else’s worldview?
Next steps – Preparation: Make a list of questions you might begin asking the people in your Personal Mission Field to discover the way of life that seems right to them (1 Cor. 10.12).
T. M. Moore
In our Personal Mission Field Workshop we’re 2 parts into a lengthy series on improving our conversational skills. Listen to Parts 1 and 2 by clicking here and here.
You can download all the studies in this series, “Let God Be True,” by clicking here.
A companion book to this study, Understanding the Times, is available at our bookstore. Learn more about this book and order a free copy by clicking here.
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