The Eclectic Life: Love, Law and Liberty

I will have . . .

I will have love, I will have grace, I will have strength, I will have peace, I will have joy, I will have goodness, I will have connection, I will have solitude and I will have discontent.

The Trinity are discontented.

When I am restored to the reality I was created to live in, then discontent will be dispelled.  “For we know in part …but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.” I Corinthians 13:9

Life and Good and Evil

Previously, I have explored how the models we hold about  our existence will shape the understanding we have about life. (See “Look at the Window”)   I then explored one way of exploring life models by looking at three major world views about the nature of human being.  ( See  the three-part “The Meaning of Being Human”)  This blog is about an  another view of the models we hold.

I do not see how it could be argued against that all human beings are involved in the activity of evaluating what is good and evil.  Whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Animist, or Atheist, everyone is stating what is good and what is evil, how we should and should not behave.  The fact that all human beings engage in this activity for as long as we have recorded history tells me this mentality is very closely tied the nature of human beings.  It would seem that to some degree this judgement of good and evil is part of any human model or paradigm.

Evaluating good and evil is part of the human experience and most people would say, “So, is not this a basic part of life and should not we seek what is good and avoid evil?” Yes, I would say this is natural and has always been but I would ask,  “Is it working”.  I really do not see that in my experience and all the humans I know, evaluating and judging what is good and evil has resulted in more good and less evil.   In fact it would appear that this judging of good and evil is the source of human conflict because different evaluations are not compatible.   Some have attempted to resolve this by putting forth there is no heaven or hell but evening making that statement they are putting forth a new judgement of good and evil.

It would appear that something is missing.   The evaluation of good and evil is needed but the activity appears to be lacking something.  Something more, something bigger than just making judgement is required.  What a surprise when I found a warning against just a model of life of only judging what is good and evil because it would only lead to death.

“In the middle of garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”¹  Here is the Creator laying out that there are really only two basic models for which to evaluate and go through life.

“And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the  ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.”²  Trees literally provide food to sustain the life of the body and  in the middle of the garden were two trees which provided  either the nourishment  for emotional, relational and spiritual life or death.

The Creator provides a tree, a model for existence which he calls “life”.  What does this model of “life” look like?  “The Lord God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.”³  First, life is a gift.  It was a gift at the beginning and is still so today.   I did not conceive myself, nourish myself for 9 months, birth myself and feed and cloth myself as an infant.  All this was done by another as a gift to me.  Life begins as a gift and was designed to evoke gratitude.  “He who has the son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”4 Second, life is maintained by a connection with our Creator.  Life has a relational basis.  Life is not an exercise in isolation but in connection.  Thirdly, there is a way life is supposed to function which is good.  In the first two chapters of Genesis there is discuss of man-kinds function in ruling over the earth, discuss of a proper diet and discuss on proper human relationships.  But all this discuss of how life works is in the context of life as a gift, gratitude and walk with the Creator.  “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day…”5 The Creator was walking in the garden to meet with his children and explore their life with them.

“…you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for when you eat of it you will surely die.”6 The other model for life is the striving after, understanding, evaluating, and choosing what is good and evil.  Sound inviting but the only problem is that the  model leads to death.

Why would this be?  First, life is more than a knowledge of good and evil.  Life is only sustained by a connection with a source of life.  Those who thought they were following the Creator ended up seeking a knowledge of good and evil and when the Source of Life came they rejected the Life.  “…yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”7  The deception is that a knowledge of good and evil would appear to lead to a good life when it leads to rejecting the Source of Life.

Secondly, a knowledge of good and evil has no motivation except power and punishment.  With life there is the motivation of  connection, gratitude, love, joy, liberty, and rest.  With a knowledge of good and evil there is the motivation of ought, force, coercion, punishment and ultimately death.   Alone, without connection to life, a knowledge of good and evil is not sustainable and ultimately culminates in death.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come  that they might have life, and have it to the full.”8

What is your model of existence, one of life or a knowledge of good and evil?

1 Genesis 2:9

2 Genesis 2:9

3 Genesis 2:7

4 1 John 5:12

5 Genesis 3:8

6 Genesis 2:7

7 John 5:40

8 John 10:10

Herald of Liberty

March 14, 1644

Not a date well-known and to me that is a loss for our society.  March 14,1644 is the date Roger Williams received his charter for the new plantation, in the New World, Rhode Island, the first community if its kind in the history of the world.  March 14,1644 would eventually lead to July 4,1776.

There is a wonderful book by John Barry, Roger Williams and The Creation of the American Soul.  I  had heard that Roger William had founded Rhode Island and helped establish religious freedom in our country and that was it.  In the words of Paul Harvey, “This is the rest of the story.”

The book begins, “This is a story of power.”  And the story is true to the theme.  The book covers the story of power involving kings, judges, Parliament,  armies, churchmen, churches, Indians, communities, family and friends.  It tells the story of how in the middle of a time when everyone is grasping for power one man risked everything he was and had to promote liberty of religion and the individual.

I have heard a story of how one group of South Sea Islanders believed they came to be.  When asked where they came from they are reported to has said, “A vine came down from heaven and our ancestors came down the vine.”  This seems to  mirror a subconscious attitude of our society.  What we have today just “came down  from heaven” and we have no relation or connection to the past.  This attitude is so far from the truth and much is lost from life if this is believed.

It recently occurred to me why I have sense of connection to the past.  My family is from southern Indiana.  I would visit my grandparents on their 40 acre farm several times a year and for 2-4 weeks in the summer.  Usually about once a year we would visit around the county and see where they used to live and to visit cemeteries and visit the grave of those who preceded us.  It seems that subconsciously I formed the impression that what I had just did not appear out of nothing.  What I had and who I was influenced by a past and people who I did not know intimately but there was an effect anyway.  Associated with this was a sense of gratitude for that connection, gratitude for not being total isolated in life.

I cannot remember the exact quote but C.S. Lewis discussed this connection.  The idea was that we read and study about the past not to see how we have progressed and have a better understanding about life compared to the past but to discover the understandings about life which we may have lost or forgotten.

I am so grateful for so many people who have gone before me, who have paved the way for me so that I can have love, law and liberty.

If you did not get the hint I highly recommend the book on Roger Williams.

Have a blessed, grateful Thanksgiving.

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