Sunday, February 19, 2017

How do You Know God? - February 19, 2017

In meditation, while preparing for this table talk, I researched both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln since the Presidents Day holiday that many of us will observe tomorrow is usually dedicated to these two men. While I learned several things about the holiday itself, including the fact that is observed and identified in many different ways througout the country, but what I mostly took from this process was a question, "What were the religious beliefs of our first and sixteenth presidents?"

Washington was associated with the Episcopalian Church and was a freemason. Both of these affiliations were influential in his life, but he was never a regular church member and it is said that he rarely took communion. He is known to have respected all religions of the many soldiers and statesmen he was involved with.

Lincoln was raised in a Calvinist/Baptist family and questioned these teachings as a young man. It was not until his life was impacted by his son's death and the unfolding of the Civil War that he grew strong in faith and prayer. He was never recorded as being baptized and never joined a church, although he regularly attended a Presbyterian Church while in Washington D.C.

I think the most interesting point is that both of these men led a life that made them revered and respected throughout history. Many people believe they demonstrated tremendous faith in God as they led our nation. But both seemed to struggle in their own understanding and acceptance of God and their education in God took their entire lifetime. The personal struggles and trials are what seemed to build each of their faiths and led them to better understand God. This is something that many of us can relate to today. How do we know God? 

Most of us try to understand God through human eyes and a human perspective. This cannot work, God is not human. God understands us because He made us and He sent Jesus Christ to Earth to live and die as a man. We must spend our time working to grow closer to Him and reach a better understanding of Him with every day and every prayer. Accepting Jesus as our savior is the first step in our understanding, knowing God more completely takes a lifetime.

We read the bible and try to understand it with a human mind and with interpretation of human languages. The bible is God's word, but would it be a simple story that He has given us to merely finish reading and accept with faith? Or is it something much greater that we should read over and over again, discuss with others, pray in conversation to God about, and eventually reach an introspective and personal understanding of?

We are not unlike Washington and Lincoln. We are all struggling to better understand God, that is why we are here today. We will likely never stand the test of history like any of the presidents, but most men never do. We are in our own personal walk with God like all men and women throughout time have been. We will all experience our own trials that are as big to us, as a war and presidency were to Washington and Lincoln.

Jesus allows us the ability to overcome the "language" barrier between us and God. He makes us righteous in God's eyes because He accepted our sin when He was sacrificed on the cross. Yes, we were created in God's image. But to truly understand God we need to look for Him with more than simple human language and human eyes. We need to use prayer and faith as our interpreter and follow His most simple rule, to love and accept each other. 

I Corinthians 13:4-13
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

Remember that everyone is trying to understand our Father in heaven better, even the George Washingtons and Abraham Lincolns of the world!

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