I’ve heard an argument for the existence of God that goes something like, “The fact that there are atheists proves that there is a God, because without God, there’d be no atheists (no one to say He doesn’t exist).”
Well, hang on! Sometimes it feels like a mystery joyride every time I post, because I’m not even sure where God will take me. This morning’s quiet time brought me to this topic from a quote in “Mornings With Jesus” by Cynthia Ruchti:
“The whole of the Bible is related to love and problems. God’s love. Our problems. God’s love expressed through Jesus Christ. Our problems when we ignore what Jesus taught.”
“Ignore”? Or “are ignorant of”? This is a very big distinction! The former implies knowledge or awareness of what is said to be true, and subsequent denial of it. One has to know something is said to be true before one can deny it. The latter implies no awareness of it in the first place. Let’s consider the definitions of these two words.
Ignore – verb – refuse to take notice of or acknowledge; disregard intentionally
Ignorant – adj – lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated, unsophisticated
Ignorant of – lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular
Both words come from the same Latin root, a combination of “in” (not) + “gno” (know). In the late 15th century, the French “ignore” actually meant (be ignorant of).
I looked deeper, defining “refuse”:
Refuse – verb – to express oneself (to say) as unwilling to accept; to deny – with origin possibly from “refute” (refutare) to say that something is not true; to prove it. (Refutare meaning “to check, suppress”).
It’s one thing to say something is true and quite another to prove it. (Just because something is said doesn’t necessarily make it true, right? Kind of like “I saw it on the Internet, so it must be true.”) But it’s also a different thing to speak, reasoning with logic to arrive at an undeniable conclusion. (Note: there’s an interesting connection between logic and common sense, don’t you think?)
Before we move on, I’d like to bring up another pair of related verbs, “to believe” and “to know”, which have an important difference. Which of these two expresses truth? Or Truth?
Next, from “Men of Integrity”, an excerpt from Recovering Redemption by Matt Chandler and Michael Snetzer:
“Not all of the dark spaces went away when you succumbed to the call of his grace and received him by faith. But the Good News [is] his eternal gospel is still working against your weakness.”
Philippians 1:6 It is God who began this good work in you…
“Succumb”? Isn’t that a bad thing? “Verb, fail to resist (pressure, temptation, or some other negative force); Origin Latin “sub” (under) + “cubare” (to lie), French “to lie down”; “bring low, overwhelm”. I wondered about the word choice, until another verb occurred to me – one that we followers of Christ use all the time: surrender. Verb, “cease resistance to an enemy and submit to their authority. This, too, is usually something undesirable.
Additional research of succumb and surrender turned up the following:
“To stop trying to resist something;” “To agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting because you know you will not win or succeed.” (Succeed’s Latin origin “sub” (near) + “cedere” (to go).) These definitions are neutral, even beneficial.
Ignore/Be ignorant of
To Say/To Prove
To Believe/To Know
As I reflected upon these seemingly contradictory terms and phrases, God brought me to today’s learning point: What is it that we humans deny/attempt to resist/view as the enemy to whom we don’t want to surrender? Another cliche came to me, “Father Knows Best.” The Father. Our Father. Our fathers. (See yesterday’s post on The Bible as the original self-help guide, containing the wisdom from/of generations.)
Seeming contradictions. Like the freedom of God’s grace is not the freedom to keep sinning, to do whatever whenever because it feels good. God’s grace means the freedom of knowing that when we do screw up, we covered, but we are called to live in a wholly, holy, different way. With responsibility.
“…We must dedicate ourselves to self-mastery… [to] determine and discipline our own motivations to stay true to our own sense of self, to our own path (Me: to what we believe God wants for us, to the purpose for which he made us).”
“…To declare who we are and what we want. (Me: To accept what God wants for us, what he has made us for.“)
(Brendan Burchard, The Motivation Manifesto)
“The difference between what we want now and what we want most.” Self-discipline, Self-control. Pursuit of our purpose. God’s purpose – his truth – for us. Ultimately, Truth. Ultimately, what there is no contradiction between is what we want (what we are meant to be), and what God wants for us. What we resist is that the two are one and the same.