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September 02, 2004

I finally finished the Bible today -- I read both the Peters, all three Johns, Jude, and Revelation over a tall coffee at Starbucks this afternoon. Cover to cover, it took me almost eight months to read, from January tenth to September second. As books go, it was pretty good -- it was a bit repetitive in many places, rather wordy in others, and usually quite hard to decipher. It's easy to understand how people interpret it in so many different ways, but not so hard to see the essential truth being conveyed:

"God is love." (1 John 4:16)

I think that this perfect and simple truth should, but too often doesn't, supercede many of the unfortunate interpretations being made of the Bible. It's pretty clear by the end of the book that this is the main idea, how is it that so many people seem to be missing this? I should amend this by saying that I realize that many people do understand and live by this idea, but the problem to me is the many people who don't.

I digress...

The obvious question at this point goes something like "did reading the book bring you closer to God?" When I started reading the Bible I didn't believe that there was a God, now I am pretty sure there is. I pray on most nights, but I don't address my prayers to any specific God -- just "God." The real question is whether the Bible brought me closer to Jesus Christ, and to this question I still have no answer. I'm willing to accept the existence of a divine presence/power, but I'm still on the fence as to whether that divine whathaveyou and the one I just spent eight months reading about are the same.

I keep looking, I keep posting, you keep reading.

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i like your post title. congrats on finishing. i give you resounding props for reading the whole book, start to finish! i was born and raised a christian and i've never done that. i may have come pretty close to reading the whole thing, but i've done it in sporadic devotional/study-type segments. your search has inspired me to try the start-to-finish method. your search has also been very spiritually grounding to read. your questions and the comments posted have helped reconfirm my faith, a faith that has had its share of questions and reservations, just like you. Jesus says in matthew 18:3-4 "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven". accept him with the faith of a child. i understand that and can relate to that so much more as i've aged. as my knowledge base/experience/perspective on life and humanity has matured, it's hard to supress the rational and analytical side of my thinking from questioning, how can God really exist? how can someone not have a beginning or an end? the questions come up, and i pray for God to open my eyes and my heart to Him and to melt my resistances. He always does. thank you for your quest, as it has helped me renew my love and faith in Him. good luck on your journey...

Am very impressed. I myself took much longer than that to read the Bible, and this I did only in spurts.

Unfortunately, you did spell supercede "superseed," which significantly lowered my feelings of impressedness. However, this is from a girl who believed that "indicted" was pronounced the way it's written, and that "endited" was an entirely different word. Hmm.

I miss you, a little bit.

God bless you richly, Jef. You have given it all you've got. One more thing...Just ask Jesus if He is real. May you soon ask Him into your life and hear His beautiful voice.

I ask you do not go so simply.

Faith as a child doesn't mean stupid belief in the chrubem-and-clouds christianity. It means humble, true, deep acceptance. The way a child believes and trusts his parents.

To me, this kind of trust only comes by critical examination, thought, prayer and intellecutal, spiritual and concious agreement with the results.

I agree with the others - do indeed always seek that ping of enlightenment, and always search for the peace of your soul. But simply asking is only part of it. Without being in the right frame, I don't believe simply asking is enough for anyone.

So think, and never stop thinking. God rewards the thinker, and punishes the brash. (look over - tell me when the brash are blessed). As much as some people might tell you otherwise - the Bible tells us to examine and critique - and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Got here via Maggi Dawn's - I'm intrigued by your post, full of respect for you, and I'll be hanging around a bit I guess. God bless.

Another sent here from maggi....and another one thoroughly impressed...not least that anyone can concentrate that hard in Starbucks.
Seriously, though, that is a wonderful thing to have done and I'm sure that the God you are searching for will make himself real to you in so many ways. Blessings

Another of the linkers from Maggi's site.

You're searching for something in a way that those of us who are supposed to 'have found it' never have. Big up 2 u. It sounds as if the journey you're on is more meaningful and real as a result.

Enjoy what you've found so far, it's a privilidge to have heard about u & having made the link to this site.

hi (also via maggi's site...)
this little glimpse of your search brings back a lot of memories... i became a christian about 16 months ago. I started as an agnostic leaning towards atheism, but i hadn't examined the question for many many years. when i asked a friend for help in my 'looking for God', i couldn't even bring myself to say the word "God", which did make the question rather difficult to phrase :-)
after a lot of reading and talking, i came to believe in a vague theism (there is a God, but how do I know he's the "Christian" God?). I was pretty unsure about Jesus.
I hope you will keep reading - you can meet Jesus in the Bible, and a lot of other books are amazingly valuable too. I'd recommend one by Steve Kumar called Christianity for Skeptics. and definitely pray to God about Jesus and who he is.
and this might make some Christians squirm, but i'm sorry to say i wouldn't recommend rushing yourself into church attendance as a way to understand or find Jesus. He is definitely at work in churches, but they're often geared for those who already know him. just don't give up on Jesus if you try a church early on and find it doesn't do much for you. through a friend of a friend, God called me to a church four or five months after i began to believe. it was the right time and the right place, and now i wouldn't be without it - but no need to rush.
A patient friend with a solid faith, who can relate to you for who you are, makes an invaluable resource for helping you find/build your own faith. and you will be helping them as much as they help you, trust me.
Like you (and John), i think the fundamental characteristic of God is love. I think the other aspects of His nature (justice, creativity, power...) all flow from love. And love should be the essence of our relationships with Him and with each other. When you find Him, hang on to that. The world needs more Christians who remember that God is love!

There can't be many more fundamental scriptures than 'God is love'. And in my experience many Christians already do regard this as the fundamental scripture.

2 cautions:
(1) We need to be clear what we mean by love (e.g., love is not indulgence) as its meaning isnt self-evident. Misinterpretation of this particular scripture could lead to the disregarding of a whole load of less congenial ones.
(2) How do we decide which scriptures are the most fundamental in the first place? If the answer is that we choose the scriptures which we ourselves find most beautiful or aesthetically pleasing or which fit in with our own worldviews, cultures or preconceived notions, then we need to go back to square one and start from scratch.

Yet another one from Maggi's blog - I have to say, if you'd finished reasding the Bible in Cafe Nero rather than Starbucks you may have had a greater epiphany! But seriously, I'm interested to know how you came to the conclusion that 'God is love' and yet still haven't made up your mind about Jesus - I only say this because I agree with you that the dominant message of the Bible is that God is love - but without the life and words of Jesus (for me at least) then I may not have come to that conclusion - that doesn't mean to say that I take the simplistic view that all we have to do is ask Jesus into our hearts thingy - no, its more of a join him on the journey sort of thing - go back and read Luke 24.13-32 (pref in Cafe Nero)and imagine that the journey you are on is not disimilar to theirs - you may get a surprise as to how you arrived at your conclusion - bless you fellow searcher (did you know that 'disciple' can be translated as 'seeker'?)

TAKE A GOOD LOOK AROUND YOU AT LIFE AND ALL CREATIONS.
THIS IS SURELY SOMETHING IT JUST DOESNT COME FROM NOWHERE YOU MUST HAVE A FOUNDATION IN LIFE GOOD IS THE ONLY REASON FOR OUR EXISTANCE ,GOD HAS GIVIN US ALL A FREE LIFE, (UNFORTUNTLY THIS FREEDOM HARMS IN MANY WAYS
BECAUSE OF SIN). ALL IS WITHIN OUR OWN BODYS WE ARE FULLY EQUIPPED PUTTING OUR EMOTIONS IN THERE RIGHT PERSPECTIVES IS OUR HARDEST TASK TO EXPERIENCE GODS GREATER GLORY .
EMAGINATION-PERSPECTIVES-STRENGTHEN SOULS I LOVE GOD THANKYOU FOR EVERYTHING COME WHAT MAY!

Dear Friend thank you for your site.
Well it seems that all of us seeking for something, it is in the nature of our brains.
Me too have done a lot of searching, listening to many people, reading many books, praying many times, finally I found that God is here not anywhere else (with me). And who I am, just an observer, I am the nature that is looking to itself (the nature). I am what I am, the nature, the world admires the world and God sees the nature and hears the world with my eyes and with these ears.
With great Love and respect
Afshin

I would love to ask Afshin if the dissolution between subject and object has happened through "him". If God is everywhere and nowhere else but here? And I ask about the inevitable how, when all that is pointed to me is the impossibility of asking for... Grace.

Peace

The Bible is the word of God. It is evident that the Bible bring us close to Jesus Christ. This search should be espiritual, not intellectual or literal. A nation by itself will never discover what the Bible calls "the deep things of God", I corinthians 2:10. Also those things cannot be learned or discovered by the sight of the artist or the philosophy school of thought. The purely human view cannot ever arrive there. The poetic intution is incapable of cathing it. The common lights of the human intelligence, and the vulgar feelings, they fail fully in this matter. Only the pure light of the Lord can lead the man in such ways. The Holy Spirit of God led us into His presence and the God's arms. In this way we will know what God gives gratuitouly to us. In the Spirit of God the union is perfect. Without it all union to God is artificial,mechanical and dead. Without our talent His grace shows us the way to follow and find Him. Science is not necessary to find God because by the Spirit of God the sight operates simple and spontaneous, as the sun's light. Just follow God and His deep things will be disclosed. Why do we need to polish the mind if our basic need is the light of the Lord? We don't need ability to find God. He is close to us . We just need search for Him with all our heart.

I just want to be sure that I have found God

I feel I have, as many others, come late to this stage of spiritual introspection. Yet here I am. A leap of faith is exactly that -from what you see and what you suspect and what you expect. There is no better stage than losing the love, the heart of your being- in my case, my sister - my heart, my other me, my raison d'etre. I have struggled for years - bargaining with God if only he would spare her I would do whatever was asked. Alas, that did not come to pass and Betsy died. How could I live on without her? We looked at one another and we could not fathom what was written.
I have always hedged my bets on the side of being humanely ignorant in my belief of God, but an interesting encounter changed my point of view. Without further detail I am now actively seeking the voice, the spirit of our Father. Every day I seek to hear his voice, invoke the spirit, inhale and open my spirit to the Father. I am so lonely having lost my loved one. I know I am just one human among so many. Father - you have been always in my life and though I knew that I never sought your counsel as I do now. I am willing to give my life up to a higher power and seek your loving spirit to guide me.

is anyone out there>

ok, I believe in a "God in my own way". I mostly find God in nature. I just read all the comments before this: keep your big ideas and self-analyzing out of it and those negative comments like "god will PUNISH you: for Gods sake!!!God is love and nothing else the God I want to know isn't like us : wishy- washy- happy one minute--grumpy the next--God is love, accepts us "perfect ones" as readiy as the homeless ones. Grow up and lets all of realize that. If we don't we are displaying our own insecurities.

God is love what more can be said.Seek and you will find,Knock and the door will be opened.Death is the start.

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