God and Cycles of Living
Right now, I’m going to be talking about my intuitive/emotional differences between different feelings and self-defined stages of living. Some of what I say will probably sound somewhat like Buddhism or other ancient world religions. To me, the words I will use have mostly to do with the excellent way they describe how I feel and how I see nature. I believe that a work is defined by its fruit, and that in doing anything, the spirit in which something is done is what defines it before God. We have Christ’s Holy Spirit and Scripture to make informed decisions about anything we see in the world. Thus, so long as the Spirit in which I do this is good and still acknowledges and can feel (somewhat) Christ’s authority to judge the entire world and myself included, I don’t see why this would be a scary conversation. People are called to minister to all the nations, and some people struggle at gutting Western constructs of faith and putting it in the cultural lenses of the place they are residing. I think broadly anyways, so consider this just being one step ahead of the game. Also, I will acknowledge that I have only heard about most of this stuff in passing, so if it’s entirely off, I don’t mean to misrepresent or wound anyone, this is just how I feel.
I think a lot of our lives simply boil down to how we perceive them. In the blog post I wrote called “Reassess: Stage 2 End of a Cycle”, I talked about three different personal stages that I use to define my reality. It’s not something I think everyone should use. I just think our realities are what we make them regardless of if we try to change them, and I believe that God recognizes our abilities to be different from one another, otherwise we wouldn’t each be so unique. Thus, for me to define my own reality just seems proactive. Other people try to do it for me anyways. I take Psychology classes that try to do it for me. I speak with Academic Advisors that do their best to not do it for me while doing it for me. I have parents. I have friends, and acquaintances, and whole hosts of people who are very much different from me. But ultimately, even if it’s just to keep the peace, I decide.
I self-defined three different personal stages, and they are Logic/Peace, Experience and Emote, and Intuition. These different areas of my life help me to understand who I am as a person, because there are facets of my personality that very much focus on each of these different areas. The word “stage” either means a duration of time or a place in which one is made to feel special (for better or worse). In a way, these are both. “Feeling special” isn’t a problem unless you feel more special, and for the sake of clarification on this simple explanation, I don’t.
I view life as continuous. I like to think of it like water because water flows, it can take on the properties cohesion and adhesion (among others) to maintain and foster life through hydrogen bonds (they make it able to heat quickly, to boil approximately at 100 degrees Fahrenheit, to freeze uniquely). Many of the measurement scales we have are based off of nature. That makes sense. Humans compare things, so comparing things to what was already there and finding more accurate means of describing it seems pretty natural to me. The definitions for calorie/kilocalorie, Fahrenheit, sea level (duh), and many others all have to do with water. More abstractly, the 30-day calendar that we use in Western culture has to do with the interplay between lunar cycles and water. Early navigators who maneuvered ships on the sea did so by observing the changes in the sky, the Persian’s were baller at that. A lot of things that Western culture now has, it was given from other parts of the world. I won’t say “stole” because I don’t know that that word means the exact same to each of the cultures we absorbed things from, but regardless, we have them.
Nature is a part of us. As living organisms, we each have a beginning and an end. Although many people would rather argue about what constitutes a beginning rather than just try to ensure all beginnings start well, we all certainly die. In any new beginning, there is an enormous amount of hope. We hope for our children to have better lives than ours. We hope that the world would be kind to them. We hope for “success”, however we would define that. We hope.
It makes sense that things would come to an end. In any ending, there is a certain amount of closure. It is finished. All of the mental energy and resources it took to solving that conflict or task then go into something else entirely. You can see this in your ecosystem, things die and new things take root in their decomposition. It makes sense. It is how gardens can be maintained, how soil stays fertile: you have to have enough nutrients from whatever was left behind to sustain whatever comes next. Now, not everything can be sustained, some things have to fall away or die to provide for what must happen. Scientists call this “survival of the fittest” and/or “natural selection” when it applies to just one species over a period of time, or within an ecosystem. Now, that makes sense, to break it down into describing the cause and effect cycles of living for one specific group. But that is not the full picture.
I believe that we all have the Holy Spirit within us. It is the part of us that is divine. Different cultures call it different things, and I think that is good, because God made the Tower of Babel for a reason: to humble us. If we didn’t know what it was alike to be out of place and struggle to understand, we would probably not know humility, given that was his design. Many ways of thinking like this come to be viewed in a circle. I can understand why that is, I used to believe that. But I don’t think it was a bad thing. If you think about the circular nature of rainbows as a sign God uses to signify peace, they too are circular. If we could fully understand the thoughts of God, I’m not sure what shape it would take. But it makes sense that in living in dying, in mercy and grace, in death and resurrection, it would come full circle.
The main reason that separates a lot of what I believe from a lot of what others believe is that I believe that Christ alone has the power to help a person fully understand their infinitely small place in the Universe. I think that is good, because God sent it. Despite what many humans believe and what many humans believe in my culture, I think it is a bad idea to try to make yourself more big. It seems dangerous. I don’t believe it can be done. It’s a lot like those creepy internet ads to augment part of your body. Those have been around for thousands and thousands of years. Plastic surgery makes all of that very possible now. I just don’t think it’s a good idea.
Apart from one’s physical person, making a person’s ego bigger is also a bad idea. Eventually all things that are unsoundly founded come tumbling down. It is no one’s “fault” necessarily, as in no one person who participates in that cycle has more blame than another. I believe that sin is sin, and it is sin to tolerate sin and do nothing. This is different from the active decision to do nothing. To choose to do nothing, you have to be aware that something must be done. You may not have the means, ability, or understanding to act. But typically God can provide those. Now, in those moments I believe it is good to clarify. Different people experience God differently. For me, when God is trying to tell me something, it feels like a nagging feeling I can’t get rid of; it makes me nauseous and it is really irritating. He does that to get my attention. He doesn’t always want me to act, but he wants me to know that whatever I see is in some part bad. It’s my “conscience”, I guess, the voice of the Holy Spirit. I don’t hear voices. No one is whispering in my ear. I know that some people who have known God did have those things happen. I see no reason to disbelieve them if I have no good reason not to. So I don’t. I know that we all know God differently based on what we need and who he is to us. An infinite God can’t be reduced to us, but I believe he gives us exactly what we need, based on where we are at. Thus, each person sees a slightly different picture of God, if they allow it.
I believe that Christ is the only way to reach God because I believe he is the Messiah and I believe that the action of him dying in the weakest, worst possible way made it so that God could come to us as humans, who cannot rise above being human. We are smart enough to recognize our limitations. But we need divine intervention via the Holy Spirit and Christ to understand that God can be infinite all on his own, and we are much happier and better off to accept being humans.
As I was listening to NPR (National Public Radio) last night, there was a TED Talk by some professor of Psychology about how more choices logically make us happier, but how in actuality, fewer choices make us happier. It is the common sense thinking behind setting your expectations low so that you might take joy in very small things, and thus, even more as you are more and more blessed. I believe that everything can be a curse and/or a blessing depending on your perspective, and I know that having a healthy way of thinking about your life is much more valuable than anything in the rest of the world. That is why wisdom is so precious: you can’t lose it without your permission, and it only increases over time. The rest of it dies eventually.
Now, the Bible is not so different than many Eastern Religions. I am not sure what significance numbers have in other cultures, but in the Bible, 4 is the number of creation, and 3 is the number of the divine. The trinity of God, which is to say that God is in three unique aspects of the same infinity, includes the Father (God), the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit (Christ’s presence on earth). In Western understanding, there are 4 seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring. Spring is the beginning, Winter is the end. It is like a circle. God gave us time in Genesis 1 to understand the world, to mark the seasons, cycles, and stages of living. Therefore, that makes sense.
Ecclesiastes, which is my favorite book of the Bible (and probably always will be), talks about the different time frames for life processes in Ecclesiastes 7. “A time to reap and a time to sow”; all of that describes the different broad scale meanings of how life unfolds. In English or any language, it is poetic because there are two contrasting ends of one spectrum: life and death, black and white. In many things, we define something by what it is instead of what it isn’t. Because humans are more likely to remember negative experiences, that makes sense. So much of the world stays exactly the same from one day to the next. That may not be conveyed from media depictions of world events or how things are marketed. But Nature is relatively constant until we change it.
We are told in Ecclesiastes and basically every other major end of a cycle that things are not permanent. Things pass away. The world will also pass away; it was never going to be here for good, you can know that by simply looking up and the sky and realizing that we came from that, from somewhere. Scientific estimates of the world and Universe’s age have grown in sophistication over the years, but the common denominator is that we, as the planet Earth, are less old that many of the things in the Universe, if not infinitely so. Thus, knowing that things will come to an end should not scare people. We all live little, mostly 100 years or less lifespans anyways. Should it be a surprise that the world would also end?
In terms of calendars and cultures, there seems to be an understanding that things will inevitably end in various cultures throughout the world. That makes sense. For whatever reason, humans like closure. We recognize we do not have power to control Nature, at least, the smart ones among us do. The rest of us just try to make money, for the most part. If you look at differences all of over the world, even ancient cultures like the Mayans and Mesopotamians had a pretty good grip on the fact that eventually, things would end. We can blow it up into a billboard and freak out if we want, but regardless, we can’t control that. It doesn’t make sense to hold it in our brains and worry about it, because like I said, we can’t control it. If we die, we die. Every moment you are alive, Death works in the same all or nothing logic like that. Some people die. There is no reason, just the fact that some people die. It’s better to accept that you can’t control who dies and just be sad when the people you love die than to be angry, to guilt or shame or belittle yourself or others based on the obvious, common sense fact that people die. We may not want them to die. But we all die at some point. It’s better to not be afraid.
To me, Logic feels like water, because it flows. Intuition feels like fire, because it comes quickly, with little warning, and it dominates how a person thinks in a very vivid way. Emotion is a lot more like wind. To me, earth is part of who I am as a person. The love of nature that is just part of me is part of my soul; God made me that way. These are the words I use because they fit, not because I should have to justify them. If Christ is in all things and the in-flesh representation of God’s great love and the Devil is a contradictory sense of doubt, worry, and fear that is also in everything (including your flesh), could it be enough to just know that God is greater? Clearly what is evil and what is good in the world are much greater than humans or any one person. Therefore, to trust in God with the things you can’t prove but cannot disprove: that is the obvious question. Atheists deny the presence of God; that is okay. Agnostics are neither sure or unsure. People of other world religions believe in different ways; it was always meant to be that way, regardless of who is “right” or “wrong”. Some things just “are”, they can be “both”, they don’t have to be so stupidly small. If God is infinitely a) good, and b) big in terms of how humans of all different cultures have perceived him, why should we be afraid of him for a second? Why should we fear to trust him? I think one of the most popular misconceptions about God and Jesus is that they always miraculously just make themselves known to a person. I believe that God can do whatever he wants and I would hazard a guess that certainly that does happen, but faith is a choice. You choose to abandon being able to explain things. You choose to make yourself small, and rely on a force outside of your understanding to see the world fully. If you rely on Jesus, I believe that that force is good. I have no idea about the rest of it for the most part, but I will simply say that God is the one who is meant to know, I am not. I’m pretty happy with the choices and leaps of faith I have had to make. They weren’t perfect, but I regret nothing. I trust God to take care of the rest. And if the only price he asks of me to show that I know him and am a follower of his word is that I and kind to others, showing them love? I am not so sure how greatly that differs from the harmony and existence of many other people throughout the entire world. Should it be?
In Revelation, God tells us that there will be equal amounts of people chosen from the 12 different tribes of Israel, 12,000 apiece. Now, I am not so concerned about the numbers. I don’t understand them. I simply don’t. What concerns me and fascinates me is that in each of the different branches that people were grafted in, an equal amount of people will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. To me, that sounds like a pretty obvious thing. No human is better than another. No race of people is better than another. No culture or way of thinking is better than the other. We are the same, because we are imperfect in comparison to an almighty God. That just seems like common sense.
Which is why I don’t understand why people act like anything in life, let alone Salvation, is a contest. It just isn’t. I don’t know how many research summaries we have to review to come to that same initial from the beginning of Creation conclusion: no one is better, we are all broken and that is okay. We don’t have to be perfect, or best. As cultures, we should walk with one another and pick one another up, like how Peter walks across the water. Paul tells us we have company so that we might walk together and support one another as we fall. If different cultures and languages are part of the design of God up until the end of Creation, should it freaking matter who does it best in the mean time? People die here like they die there. People suffer. We have poverty, homelessness, and hunger here in Kansas like they have it in rural China. Who are we to judge? We are meant to provide for one another.
I don’t understand why Pacifism is so commonly crapped upon. If we believe that Christ is coming back, then we believe that there has to be a general understanding of peace for him to come back when no one knows. In Revelation, it says that there will be a period of world peace before it all goes to crap. That makes sense to me. As human beings, we have come full cycle. To become equal and have equal members of various different racial or nonracial backgrounds grafted in to the Kingdom of God, we have to have some sense of equilibrium, at least for a time. I don’t know if the Bible talks about race in the context of today when it talks about different tribes of Israel, given that like, nearly all of us are grafted in to descending from God in terms of genetics, and in terms of inheriting the love of God, we all certainly are. No one is perfect. Christ broke all the social order he did in such a way that none could claim perfection, not even the Jews, who were God’s holy people and who he came from. They are no less perfect than anyone else, they are no more perfect. We are all people. God loves us all. Why should it be so complicated?
To me, peace seems like the very obvious thing to do, and anything beyond that peace seems like ego, selfishness, and violence. “World peace” is only egotistical if you make one definition of what that means greater than the other. Apart from that, the God of the Universe calls us to love one another. That is only hard if we clutter it with why it should be hard. Apart from that, peace just is. It is from God. From the God that referred to himself as “I am”, don’t you think it’s time to give it a rest and just let people live their lives? You don’t have to justify another person’s existence. They exist. Let it be.
The best evangelism was always kindness. Duh. You can’t give someone faith. You can’t take it away without their permission. Faith isn’t transitive, it’s divine. We shouldn’t define it, we should just know that we cannot define something so infinite and innately from God. Christ judges. Lay off.
As usual, that you are well and that God’s will be done in all the most beautiful areas of your life. I hope you have peace when you read this. If not, life is a work in progress, and we all have choices. I don’t know more than any other person. That is the beauty in this; that no matter how much or little I know what I’m talking about (idk), it is not that big of a deal if I screw it up, because the love comes from him
All the best,