Live Your Blest Life
Dr. Jim Denison
Tell a man there are 300 billion stars in the universe and he’ll believe you. Tell him a park bench has just been painted and he’ll have to touch it to be sure.
We’re following the maxim: don’t ask God to bless what you are doing–ask him to help you do what he is blessing. What is he blessing? How do we live the life he blesses?
It all begins with trust–that he is running the universe, and that his purpose is the best plan for your life. That the complete surrender of your life to his Spirit is in your best interest. That his word and will are best for you, every time.
We all agree that it’s so, as we sit in church. The next time you’re tempted today, your conviction will be put to the test. The next time you’re given an opportunity to do the right thing at a cost, your commitment will be on the line.
It’s my job today to get you ready for that next time, to teach you what God says about living your blest life.
How did we get here?
For 35 centuries, the Judeo-Christian tradition taught us that we are created by God, and that his creation is “good.” That our purpose and identity are found in the fact that we are God’s creation, that we are each given lives of purpose and eternal significance.
However, recent generations have done battle with that foundational belief, and emerged victorious in our culture.
Isaac Newton determined that the universe operates as a machine, according to fixed laws.
The “deists,” Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin among them, believed that while God created this mechanical universe, he has nothing to do with it now.
Then Charles Darwin taught us that God did not create our lives at all, that we are here as the product of random, chance evolution.
Along the way, philosophers taught us that we cannot know this world, however it came to exist, but only our personal, subjective experience with it. Your sexual ethics are just your truth, and you have no right to force them on me or anyone else. I may disagree with homosexuality or sex before marriage, but who am I to tell someone else how to live? Tolerance is the great value of the day.
Postmodernism is the result, the worldview which dominates our culture today. All truth is subjective and personal. There is no “reality,” only yours and mine. Our lives have no real destiny–this is all there is. You can believe what you want about the origins of life and its purpose and destiny, so long as you tolerate my beliefs.
And the debate rages on.
Harvard University announced this week that it is establishing the “Origins of Life in the Universe Initiative.” Researchers hope recent scientific advances such as NASA’s rovers on Mars will help them learn more about life’s origins. The research team will receive $1 million annually from Harvard. Said one of them to The New York Times: “My expectation is that we will be able to reduce this to a very simple series of logical events that could have taken place with no divine intervention.”
Time magazine calls the debate “Evolution Wars.” Here’s one reason why. The magazine quotes Steven Pinker, psychology professor at Harvard: “Many people who accept evolution still feel that a belief in God is necessary to give life meaning and to justify morality. But that is exactly backward. In practice, religion has given us stonings, inquisitions and 9/11. Morality comes from a commitment to treat others as we would wish to be treated, which follows from the realization that none of us is the sole occupant of the universe. Like physical evolution, it does not require a white-coated technician in the sky.”
Are you here by chaos, chance, coincidence? A cell floating in a pool of water which mutated to its present status? If your past has no purpose, your future has no plan. And Martin Heidegger is right: you’re an actor on a stage, with no script, audience, or director; courage is to face life as it is. Jean Paul Sartre was right to title his most famous play No Exit, and his autobiography, Nausea. His story is ours. Or is it?
God’s answer to the question
Here’s how God’s word begins: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Everything starts with him. You say life began as a cell floating in a pool of water. Genesis asks where the water came from. You say life began as a cataclysmic, natural Big Bang. Genesis asks where the big bang came from. It all started somewhere. Genesis says it started with God.
And you and I started with him as well. God made us as part of his universe, and in fact, as its crowning work: “Let us make man,” God said. When he made the other days, he called them “good.” But when he made us, he called his work “very good” (v. 31).
We must agree with him, or nothing else I’ll say today will matter. If you think you’re nothing more than random, chaotic chance, with no intrinsic value or design, you’ll not be interested in a conversation about purpose and destiny. So let’s examine what Genesis says God made.
Think about the organ with which you think. Your brain contains about 10 billion nerve cells, called “neurons.” Each neuron is connected to surrounding cells by a network of fibers called axions and dendrites, and has as many as ten thousand fibers leading from it into other cells. As a result, the number of possible interconnections between the cells of your brain is many times larger than the number of atoms in the entire universe.
Your brain can consider 10,000 separate factors at one time. In fact, a normal human brain has enough capacity to know everything that is known in the entire world, if there were enough time to learn it all.