Monday, December 22, 2008

Denying the Undeniable

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." (Romans 1:18-20)

Those that know me well will tell you that I can be quite particular about certain things. One of them just happens to be personal space. I do not like to be crowded. I do not last long in a room with many people competing back and forth in conversation. I must remove myself from situations like this or I will simply shut down and become a silent "bump-on-a-log." I've tried...Lord knows I have. But, that is just the way I am. Warts and all I guess.

Not long ago, I was a financial advisor being sent off to St. Louis for financial preparation and updated knowledge on the latest financial packages and products. As far as the trip to St. Louis was concerned, I was somewhat excited about it. I had never been to St. Louis, MO before. There was just one small problem; I was forced to room with another advisor that I had never met before. Not only had we not met, we had never talked. We had never heard of one another. And the thought of sharing a hotel room in St. Louis, MO with a complete stranger did not appeal to me at all. In fact, I felt myself already guarding my invisible "me-space" as the plane landed in St. Louis.

Fortunately, the gentleman that I was forced to bunk with turned out to be alright after all. He had a young family to support. He was an intelligent individual that seemed mature and level-headed. Even better, he cared about his personal hygiene. He wasn't a slob. Praise God! And as we began talking, we found that we had a good bit in common. We were near the same age. His youngest child and my daughter were almost the same age. We liked some of the same sports. We liked some of the same teams. The evening passed by with polite conversation and an occasional laugh.

That is when it happened.

Just before bedtime, I liked to read from the Bible. And as I read, I could tell my Bible reading bothered Todd (finally introduced his name) a little. Although I was trying to concentrate on the Scriptures, I could see Todd give a glimpse of interest from time to time. And as he did, I began to wonder what he was thinking. Was he thinking, "Aw, Man! I thought this guy was going to be alright. Now, it turns out he is a 'holy roller!'?" Was he thinking, "I wonder why he is reading the Bible?" Or, was he thinking something like, "Interesting...I wonder what that is all about?" My questions were soon answered. Todd asked the question like he had been repeating it over and over and over in his mind during the last twenty minutes. He said something along the lines of, "Do you believe the Bible?"

Not a bad question to ask I suppose. I responded, "I sure do." And then I asked a question to Todd, "Do you believe the Bible?" I believe that this caught him off guard. He thought about his response for a minute, as if he were collecting the perfect response. Then he said, "I don't believe we can know any absolute truth." According to Todd, coming to grips with a God who revealed himself to mankind in an authoritative, absolute way was a difficult task.

I, in turn, took a few moments to gather my thoughts for a response. Then I responded, "Doesn't the fact that something is 'true' inherently mean that the other options are 'false.' Otherwise, we would truly live in a world of complete relevance and personal opinions, right?" So if something is in fact true, it is necessary that it is absolutely true. Todd asked the next logical question, "How do you know that your belief is right and all the other religions are wrong?" He continued, "Aren't there hints of truth (though not absolute) in them all?" What a great question? If there is a question that encapsulates the confusion of the post-modern thought process any better than this question, I would like to know it. I responded simply, "They cannot all be is an impossibility."

The greatest difference between Christianity and all other world religions is the fact that--in Christianity--God reveals himself, making himself known. Absolute truth is revealed. It is proclaimed. I believe all of Hell, all of the dark demons, and even Satan himself would like nothing more than for the world to be as relevant, as opinionated, and as tolerant as possible--especially toward this subject of truth. If this becomes the case, then the only foundational aspects of one's belief system would simply be their individual opinions and personal worldviews. Why would anyone need absolute truth if everything is truth? Even more, why would anyone need to feel bad for sin? Why would anyone believe that sin is possible? If truth is relevant, it would be ridiculous to punish someone for their own actions based upon their own relevant truth and worldview induced actions. Right? And the slope gets more slippery with each descent. With each thought.

We are all accountable to a holy God because truth is truth. God reveals truth. And because God reveals truth, we have standards to live by. Furthermore, we are accountable for our actions based upon his revealed truth.
I never really felt as if Todd and I settled our differences that night. However, he did respond by saying, "I have never heard it put that way before." And as I turned off the light and tried to go to sleep, I couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking. I prayed for him. I prayed for his family. Then I prayed for the millions of people in this country that have been taught relevance. That have been taught that truth is what you decide it to be. That have been taught to suppress the truth. From Oprah chit-chats to University lectures, the thought of tolerance permeates our culture.

God's Word tells us that God has made himself evident to all. He exists. God has made his truth known. His invisible qualities have been clearly seen.

We can suppress truth in order to create some sort of "out" away from absolute truth. Away from moral accountability. Away from the concept of sinfulness. Away from the idea of brokenness. Away from moral responsibility.

But in the end, it is simply another attempt to deny the undeniable. We are all without excuse.