Follow by Email

God Fearing Man

A few weeks ago I took a short road trip to Lebanon, MO, to pick up some hardwood flooring that I found for sale on Craigslist.  On the trip, I flipped through an old CD case of ours that has remained somewhat untouched for years.  I pulled out all the CDs that didn't have any writing on them and decided to go through them to figure out what they were.

One of those disks was full of Ben Harper's music.  Through the CD swap, it had managed to stay in the 5-disk player even after the trip.  Several weeks later, I would happen upon this disk and inevitably find inspiration for this blog.

I found myself listening to Ben Harper's "God Fearing Man".  And, unlike in my younger days, I actually made a point to listen to what Ben was saying rather than just tap my foot through a song, oblivious to its message.  In the song, he sings, "Tell me, what gives one the right to say their God is better than anybody else?  Don't we all have a right to find God for ourselves?"

I'd like to take a crack at answering Ben's questions here, despite the fact that, in all liklihood, they were only intentioned to be rhetorical.  In the first question he poses, he correctly makes it known that we don't all serve the same God.  The opposite (that all religions worship the same God) is a common misconception among non-Christians.  While it sounds nice to say, even wise perhaps, that all those religions have much more in common than they would like to admit, it really only betrays the speaker's lack of knowledge of any of the religions to which they refer since they are all mutually exclusive.  So, kudos to Ben for recognizing that.

Let's go back to answering that first question of "what gives one the right".  The short answer is God.  God instructs us to share the good news.  The good news is who God is, who we are, what He did for us, and the eternal implications of all of it.  So, we're supposed to tell others about God.  For that matter, if He were truly a part of our lives, wouldn't He normally come up in conversation?

Ben is specifically asking about one telling another that their God is "better."  I gave kudos to Ben for recognizing that people in different religions do not worship the same God.  However, Ben, undoubtedly, is leaning on the politically-correct philosophy that no one should discuss God, so that everyone is allowed to "find God for ourselves."  This is blatantly unbiblical, as previously mentioned about God instructing us to go out and preach the good news.  But, it's really quite popular.  It's become such a violation of accepted social norms to tell anybody about God.  And, non-Christians are not alone in the application of pressure to keep quiet.  Plenty of self-proclaiming Christians also feed the big shutup machine.  Bottom line, society and its hush hush policy of all things God is an obvious trade for the respect of people from the respect of God.  Rather than risk offending a person, our silence disrespects God and willfully rejects what He has commissioned us to do.  We are respecting the creation rather than the Creator.  Romans 1:25 - "They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator..."  The irony of Ben Harper's song is that it's entitled and repeats throughout the song that he's a "God fearing man", yet touts this philosophy that is steeped in the fear of man, instead.

To illustrate the big picture and to make an important point I will use the following very common scenario:

Two Christians, Matt and David, are talking at a coffee shop.  David makes it known in conversation that he is having sexual relations with his long-time girlfriend.  Matt points out that it's wrong for David and his girlfriend to be doing that to which David replies that he knows that it's wrong but that they have plans to marry at some point in the future.  Matt asks what measures David and his girlfriend are taking to help keep them living right and accountable.  David reiterates their plans of marriage.  Matt congratulates David for his plans, but asks about what would happen if David were to die tomorrow having been living in sin.  David replies that he believes in Jesus and is saved and doesn't believe that the loving God he worships would send him to hell.

Ben Harper may have been referring to a Hindu or Buddhist telling a Christian or Muslim that their God is better, or vice versa.  But, I tend to think from the collective statements that he makes in the song, that he's referring to anyone telling anyone anything about God, specifically when they disagree on the issue being discussed.  I don't believe that Ben was limiting the possibility to inter-religious discussions.  Ben would say that Matt is telling David that his God is better than David's.  And they are both Christians, right?

The first of the Ten Commandments applies here.  We are not to have any other gods before Him.  I would like to establish that David believes in a different God than his pal, Matt.  My evidence is that David believes in a loving God, but his god is neither just nor holy.  (Forgive me if I'm messing up the capitalization here)  The God of the Bible is loving, sure.  But He is also just and holy.  He cannot let sin go unpunished because He is holy, just and perfect.  To do so would be unjust.  Thankfully, He sent His son to be punished in our place, however, what are we instructed to do?  Repent from our sin and ask for forgiveness.  Repent means to turn away from.  When Jesus was brought the woman accused of adultery, he saved her from the death that was certain to come from her accusers, but he then said, "Go and sin no more."

So, David is purposefully ignoring the knowledge that he has, turning a deaf ear to the Holy Spirit, justifying his sin rather than seeking forgiveness, and altering his image of God to suit his desires.  What David has done is to create his own god.  And, he worships that one in God's rightful place.  This may even fall under the second Commandment which is to not set up an idol, graven image, or likeness.

In summary, it's not that one person's God "is better" than another's.  It's that there is but one God.  He is the Creator of all things, the Truth, the Life, and the Way.  There is no other.  So, we worship Him with our lives, or we don't.

Now, this may sound harsh or "judgemental" or both.  Am I suggesting that our proverbial David is bound for hell?  No.  I'm in no position to make that call, nor do I want to be.  God has immense grace for us (THANK GOD!).  But, with knowledge comes responsibility.  When David, empowered by the Holy Spirit, overcomes his flesh and recognizes his sin, he should repent from it and make changes to his life to help him make better choices.  David may not know that he is sinning with his actions right now.  His relationship with God and, thus, his knowledge of who God is, may not be developed to the maturity level to know or recognize hos actions for what they are.  God has grace for us during this growth (again, THANK GOD!).  But at some point, as we grow and learn, which we all do, we do learn what we should and should not do and we change our behavior according to the decisions we make to obey God or not.  Our walk with god is not static.  We're either growing closer or drifting away.

Ben's lyrics would have it that we can't have this discussion or countless others for that matter.  But, I fear God more than I fear those who may read this.  He wants to know us and He wants us to know Him.  I find no real value in "finding" God on our own versus having a loving, God-fearing man or woman tell us about Him.  If God intended for us to all discover Him with no help from others, He wouldn't have encouraged us to meet together nor would have commanded us to share the knowledge that we have been given with others.


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More