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Life’s Questions – Week 38 Notes

By October 6, 2019Sermon Notes
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Since last Sunday at this time you have lived 168 hours. (congratulations)

We all have varying amounts of hours and days that remain for us…we don’t know the amounts.

Some here could have eighty years or more left…that’s a lot…that’s not that many, really.

But years, days, hours…those are descriptions of how we measure time…they are not time itself.

Any more than “a calorie” is the same as a piece of cake.

Time is weird.

A moving clock will run more slowly than a stationary one…this becomes more pronounced the faster the clock is moving.

And time will move more slowly the more gravity there is…that’s also weird.

Older people perceive time as moving faster than younger people do…not as weird.

Researchers think this is because time is perceived to move slower when encountering new things…as you get older you encounter fewer new things.

Regardless of the fact that we don’t fully understand time and we perceive it differently as we travel through it…we are in fact traveling through it…we are time travelers

The sum total of the time we travel on this planet we call our “lives.”

“He lived from 1977 to 2019”

“Throughout her life she loved her family”

There are about 7.7 billion people “living” right now.

So we have a single life…that is our time on the planet.

Everyone is spending their lives (you can’t save them)…paying out our lives in time… day by day.

So…why do you have a life? Why do you have time to spend (or waste)?

What is it for?

This is an enormously practical question?

Some say…you can’t really answer it…mystery.

Others say…only you can answer it for yourself…personal…you find purpose, or fail to find purpose.

Some say…you have a life because mindless space and time…at a point in time…spit you out on planet earth…then at another point in time…you will dissolve again back into the mindless space and time.

The who (are we)

Leads to the why (we are here)

Leads to the How (we are to live…spend our time)

When the first one is off (who are we?)…the why is off(why are we here?) and the how we are to live is off…what are we to do with our time (lives)

A common view in the West…is that we are Biological machines or mere animals:

If someday we have the technology to upload our brains to a computer some believe we could “live” there…outside of our bodies.

We are just CPUs(brains) living in biological machinery(bodies)

-There is nothing about us that is “spiritual” in the sense that we transcend the physical world…no “souls” just machinery.

Peter Singer, professor at Princeton University, (unfortunately) one of the most influential contemporary ethicists, writes:

“Whatever the future holds, it is likely to prove impossible to restore in full the sanctity-of-life view. The philosophical foundations of this view have been knocked asunder. We can no longer base our ethics on the idea that human beings are a special form of creation made in the image of God, singled out from all other animals, and alone possessing an immortal soul. Our better understanding of our own nature has bridged the gulf that was once thought to lie between ourselves and other species, so why should we believe that the mere fact that a being is a member of the species Homo Sapiens endows its life with some unique, almost infinite value?”

This is Singer’s “Who” (nothing special not different from other animals)

The why we are is: “No good reason, we just happen to be here.”

The “how” we are to live then is, for him…Kill children who are deemed unworthy of life. Same with older or disabled adults who are not useful…and a host of other similar horrible ideas…that follow from his flawed view of “who” we are.

-I would say the most common view of humanity on the streets of America is…We are Confused:

We are special (We are not really sure why…heard something in church as a kid…heard a pop song saying “we are amazing”)

And we are confused (wanting so much to be special and yet confused as to how and why this is so or what it even means to be “special.”)

*Then from our confusion we become dismayed and disillusioned with life and others because they don’t treat us as special…when our lives don’t feel special to us…people become depressed…there

Tons of music and movies about this disillusionment…and to the desire to go back to the naive times of believing in meaning.

As John Mellencamp sings… “Oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone.”

But we are not complex machines or mere animals…so we don’t do well when we fail to understand who we are and why we are here.

What happens if I treat a lawnmower like a dog…try to train it, form a relationship with it? Strange but its harmless for the mower…it is a machine. It will remain a good lawnmower.

What happens if I treat a dog like a lawnmower…lock it in shed between use. This will be harmful for the dog it is not a machine. Won’t be a good dog.

What happens if I treat a child like a dog or a lawnmower? This is devasting and criminal. It will ruin the child. Won’t be a good person.

A child is not an animal or a lawnmower…a child is similar to animals and machines…but totally different than either one.

What happens if I try and live like a machine or a mere animal…which is, by the way, very common…what kinds of choices will I make and not make?

We live in a culture where by and large the residue of belief that we are created (more than machines and other animals) remains intact among the masses but that belief is not foundational for most people in their day to day lives.

Machines and animals…give no indication of an awareness of the passing of time…we do.

We feel it…we sense it…we are aware of our lives…our existence.

We want time to slow down, or speed up…we think back in time and forward time in our minds.

We want our lives (our journey through time) to matter…to be special. To have meaning.

This is because we bear the image of God…machines and animals don’t.

Yet…practically, actually…at the point where belief and behavior intersect…where real choices are made…most people don’t actually believe they bear the image of God.

A little bit…maybe…but not enough to dramatically change how they live their lives.

Gal. 4:4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,

In time (a specific time of God’s choosing) Jesus entered our world, our space (born of a woman)…he did so with a specific purpose.

Gal. 4:5 To redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6

God…who made space and time…made us to live in space and time…has entered space and time to redeem us.

It is critical, as we travel through the minutes, hours, days, and years…that we call our lives.

That we do not wander aimlessly…unthinking…like a machine or an animal.

The machine or animal…can live out its existence perfectly well…without understanding its purpose…that is its purpose…be the animal…be the machine…you cannot live that way and be okay.

You absolutely cannot…you must know your Big WHY…or you will have no idea HOW to live out your life.

Without a big WHY…humans do not do well.

*I am passionate about this…because it is true…and because I have seen the consequences of people…trying to live without contemplating and understanding their “why”.

And I also know how hard it is to not be put to sleep by the anesthesia of the culture we live in…there is constant fog of sleeping gas…swirling around us..

“Shhh…be still…don’t think those big thoughts…here, look at this video, this image, this movie.”

“Hey, don’t contemplate how you are wasting your life…here…you just got another “like” that’s good…”

“Wait a minute…you are feeling the need for larger meaning…here eat this food, take this pill, drink this drink…let those big thoughts go…they only disturb you.”

This is not an exaggeration…this is the inner life of many if not most people who live around you…perhaps this is you.

And I am dismayed that the loss of a compelling WHY and even the loss of a reason to live…is happening at younger and younger ages.

Who does the Bible say we are(what is our essence)?

Why does the Bible say we are (what is our purpose)?

How does the Bible say we are to live our lives in view of this(what choices should follow, what should we be doing with our lives…how should we spend our hours, days, years)?

This month we are looking at what it means to be made in the image of God…what are the implications for “who” we are as humans.

Gen. 1:26-31   Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground — everything that has the breath of life in it — I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

There are four significant verbal clues in this passage that indicate that the author wants us to see the uniqueness of humanity in creation.

Before we look at them let’s get a context for this passage.

Genesis is book one of what is called the Pentateuch (the Five) or the Torah (the Law)

These books tell us the answers to life’s most important questions:

Genesis is the book of beginnings…beginning of the cosmos, humanity, and the fall of humanity into sin, and the work of God to redeem humanity.

Here’s the first clue in this passage of the uniqueness of humanity:

  1. “Let us make”vs.”Let there be”

Up to this point God had said, “let there be”… “let there be light”, “let the water teem”, etc.

When it comes to humanity the verbiage changes to “Let us make”

Impersonal “let there be”

Personal “let us make”

God said let us make man (word man is “Adam” humanity) in “our image”…this is the Triune God (Father, Son, Spirit) speaking, creating.

God has existed in eternal, contented, Triune relationship.

All other personal beings (apart from God) are incomplete all by themselves.

A human without other humans to relate to is in an imperfect state of being…we are designed to live connected.

God has eternally lived in a perfect state of being…relationship and love have always existed within the Trinity.

He is one Being, three persons…confusing?…not really…but impossible to get our minds around…He is God.

So any worldview, any religion…that has God eternally existing but not as a Triune being is incomplete…he would lack relationship and he would need to create…if he lacks or needs…he is not God.

But God has never lacked relationship and has never had a need.

What is important about this is that God did not need to create us…he wanted to.

He doesn’t need us now…yet he loves us.

We need God and others…we are incomplete without others…God is complete within himself.

First verbal clue…”Let us make humanity”

  1. Second clue:

“In our image” vs “According to its kind”

When God was creating flora and fauna…plant and animal life…he made them “according to their kind.”

This means…they are each in their own category of existence…”Plants, raise your limbs, leaves…okay you guys are over there.”

“Animals…paws, fins…whatever…let me see them…okay…you are over here.”

“Now Adam, Eve…you stand here with me.”

We are like flora and fauna…in many ways…ways that scientists can discover and tell us.

We are so unlike flora and fauna in ways that science cannot tell us…we are made in the image of God.

Humanity is not just special in the sense of being at the top of the animal food chain

We are special in that we fall into an entirely different category than the rest of creation…image bearer.

Three times this fact is repeated in these verses…we are supposed to understand this as the main point of this passage.

God is designing and creating the world…he puts humanity in a category of created things all by itself.

We alone are God’s image bearers

This means many things…the remainder of the Bible reveals who God is and how we are like him and how we are unlike him…we will look at some of these things this month.

  1. Third Clue: Male and Female he created them.

When God made water creatures, land creatures, and winged creatures there was no distinction made in them being male and female…though the distinction exists.

When making humanity the distinction, male and female, is emphasized.

Our maleness and femaleness is not merely a biological function…like mechanical things.

You can have a male insert and a female receptacle…for mechanical connectors, electricity, water, etc.

This is not how humans are made…we are not machines…with certain mechanical functions and differences that don’t matter in ultimate ways.

There is uniqueness and creativity and a reflection of God in the differences between male and female humans…differences not found in male and female animals.

  1. Fourth Clue: Humanity is to “rule” over creation under God’s rule

This is not an excuse to misuse the earth…but to be a steward, to be caretakers of creation.

Some have, wrongly, blamed the Bible for a mentality that abuses the earth.

In Genesis two God is said to have made a garden…then he put Adam in his garden to “take care of it.”

The earth is the Lord’s…we are giving a stewardship…a trust.

This again demonstrates the uniqueness of humanity.

Who are we?

We bear the image of God.

What does this mean for us as “time travelers” traveling the unique time lines called our lives?

It means our “WHY” is set…there is no distinction between “why” you exist and why I or any other human exists.

It means the “WHY” isn’t a mystery to be sought for…searched for…as if God is hiding it from us.

“I’m a Christian…but I really want to know my purpose.”

If you are Christian…you know your purpose.

Our WHY is a result of our WHO…we are made in the image of God for the glory of God.

We have heard that enough in church that it might began to sound “trite”…produce “yawns”

But the implications of this could shape every “what of our lives”…how we are to live on our time lines could be impacted by this fact…we could live our lives as if we actually exist for his glory.

I said…could not should.

Should implies “shame on you…you should be doing this.”

Could implies “Look at what is available to us.”

This is more about missed opportunity than rebuke.

It is more about how “sad” than how “bad”

In space and time Jesus came…so that we might live as full, free heirs…sons and daughters.

But sadly…we often do not see the gospel for what it is.

U2 won song of the year in 1988 with “I Still Haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

“You broke the bonds and you loosened chains carried the cross of my shame, of my shame
You know I believe it…But I still haven’t found What I’m looking for”

I think this is a profound statement of the reality of the hearts and minds of many Christians.

“I believe the Gospel…but…I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

“I believe my purpose is the glory of God…but I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

You hear statements like “I just want my life to matter” from believers.

Often in response to having jobs or life situations that don’t feel full of purpose.

I get it…this is not rebuke…but let’s think about this.

Is there a solution for our tendency to live like “we still haven’t found what we’re looking for”…even if we are believers?

Yes…but first let’s try to understand the cause.

What is the cause of having actually found what every human heart is looking for…but still feeling like we haven’t found what we are looking for?

The Movie “Yesterday”

Centers around an event where the entire world except for a couple of people don’t know the Beatles ever existed.

The theme of the movie is meaning…what matters in my life.

It begins down the road of “meaning follows fame”…making my mark is meaningful…being special out of the other 7 billion souls on earth.

But ends, happily at the place where relationships, contentedness are the path to meaning.

These kinds of movies appear from time to time…Hollywood is sometimes self-critiquing but they don’t seem to hear their own critique.

The movie, “Yesterday” about a man who finds sudden fame and fortune…but turns from it for a simplier life…is played ironically…by an actor who has been launched into international fame and fortune in the real world…by playing a character who turns from fame in the movie.

We watch the movie…and we know this…good story…not real world.

So even in a movie designed to challenge our values…the real world behind those values…is very different.

He is acting about what matters most(contentment and community)…so he can actually get what matters most(fortune and fame)

We hear the sermons…read the books…go to group…”I am made in God’s image, for God’s glory…the who and why I am…should shape the “how” I live.”

Got it…but then…I go out into the “real world”

But then in my heart…don’t look…but in my heart…”I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

If this the state of your heart and mind(and it probably is at least some of the time)…I am not being critical…this is the place to be honest…not to pretend.

Because we don’t have to pretend…because God exists…he has made you in his image for his glory…in order that you might know his joy.

To pretend like we have heart, mind, life alignment on this when we really don’t…is not helpful.

We only need to pretend if it’s not real and we want it to be.

But it is real…so we can be honest…and move toward aligning our lives with the truth.

Have you believed the gospel?…if not…it is what your heart is looking for.

If so then you have found what your heart is made for and is looking for.

*Why do you feel otherwise?

So: Cause and Cure…I’ll give them in simple form today and we will unpack them the rest of this month.

Cause: We leak power and perspective

Cure: We need a Continual infusion of power and perspective 

“Okay, Terry, that was simple…thank you for that…but not very helpful…how about a little less simple.”

*Cause: We leak power

Eph. 5:18 “Be filled with the Spirit”.

-Ongoing action…keep on being filled with the spirit.

*Cause: We lead perspective

Psa. 73:0   A psalm of Asaph (I thought I hadn’t found what I was looking for…then God gave me perspective)

Psa. 73:1   Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. 3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. 5 They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. 7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits. 8 They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression. 9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. 10 Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. 11 They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?” 12 This is what the wicked are like — always carefree, they increase in wealth. 13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. 14 All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning. 15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed your children. 16 When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. 18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin.

21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. 23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. 28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.

What happened to this guy? Well he almost slipped and fell down in his faith…because he leaked perspective.

He thought, or began to think….that he hadn’t found what he was looking for

He knew the truth, but as he walked around in the world…the truth of God didn’t look real anymore.

*CURE: Continual infusion of power and perspective.

Power “Keep on being filled with the Spirit.”

What does that even mean? It means we must stay connected to Jesus.

What does that mean?

-The realm of the Spirits power in your life is the realm of God’s will for your life.

When you sin…you have stretched the extension cord as far as it will go and then farther…turn around…plug back in.

Keep on repenting…keep on plugging back in to the source of power.

Perspective:…we must keep on regaining this as well.

What did Asaph do? He went to church.

In worship, in community, in the Word…he saw what was true and real again…perspective was restored.

So, in October we are going to look at what it means to be made in God’s image…and how to continually align belief and behavior.

Worship and pray together in community.

Like Asaph, take your struggles to God with full honesty…let him speak truth to your heart.

Perhaps you came in feeling “I still haven’t found what I am looking for”

But I pray you leave saying and believing “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. “

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