Every healthy human being’s mind becomes more complex as we age and as such, our understanding of what is real grows as well. I’m going to refer to this as the model of the universe. You might be able to tell, this post is going to be a doozy. I think it’s worth the time investment to write it all out. I hope it’s worth the time investment to read it.
Your model of the universe helps you predict what types of results come from different actions. An easy example would be, I know that if I throw my laptop off the balcony, it’ll fall three stories to the earth and probably break. Why? Because I’ve observed that there is a force that is constant throughout every interaction I’ve ever had with anything in this universe. That force is called gravity.
Other types of pillars within your model of the universe would come from childhood. Someone who was neglected as a child might come to believe about themselves that they aren’t worthy of attention. Someone who’s constantly doted over and spoiled would come to the conclusion that other people exist to serve their desires. Every experience we have works to define something about the nature of reality and our existence.
From the time we’re born up until this present moment, we’ve been building our model of the universe. Really, all I’m doing is describing growing up but it’ll play into where I’m going next.
Recently I’ve found myself crossing paths with people really struggling with the expression of faith they grew up with and in that struggle found themselves questioning the nature of God and the foundations of reality. The foundations and pillars in their models of the universe were shifting or crumbling. When I would ask them certain questions, I came across an interesting phenomenon. We used the same language to describe vastly different things.
These endlessly precious souls were vulnerably opening up to me the reason behind why they thought God probably wasn’t really actually there at all or if He was/is, He’s far off and doesn’t really care. Maybe they’d think He’s busier making black holes 7 billion times the mass of our sun.
Anyway, I began evaluating my own story because I can relate to their stories. The only difference was, when I started to question everything, I went to God and said, “Hey, so I don’t know if I believe in You anymore.” and He answered back, “Yeah I don’t believe in that version of myself either.”
So, I will tell my story and admit to my previous abject failings via a metaphorical storyish anecdote and I hope in some way it offers you a glimpse of the ultimate reality of the depths and height and breadth of the goodness of God.
One day, when I was very young and naive, I set out to bake a cake. I had just learned to read and had found a recipe book that had a cake recipe in it and the cake looked so yummy I couldn’t resist. I set out to bake this cake.
I went to the cupboard and found ingredients that had been passed down through generations and generations. The ingredients were in very ornate, cared for containers with fancy lettering telling you what was inside each container.
I carefully brought the ingredients to the table: Sugar, Butter, Salt, etc. I followed the recipe to the letter. When the cake came out of the oven, it didn’t look much like the picture in the cookbook. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I put the icing on it anyway and proceeded to take it to show everybody I knew.
I sat down in front of everyone pretending to be proud of my cake. I announced that I had baked a cake and for everyone to come have some. I took the first slice and when I bit into it, it tasted foul. But cake isn’t supposed to taste foul. So I said it tasted sweet. People who wouldn’t say it tasted sweet weren’t allowed to be friends with me anymore. This was cake and cake is delicious. You don’t think cake is delicious? What’s wrong with you?
Eventually that ‘cake’ made me sick and I swore I’d never eat cake again.
That is, until one day, when somebody gave me sugar to try. I had tried all the ingredients in cake years ago and I knew what ‘sugar’ tasted like but didn’t like it much. I warily took the sugar though because the person’s reaction to sugar wasn’t like my experience with it. When I tasted the sugar it was not like my memory of sugar. This new sugar was incredibly sweet. Then I tasted butter. Then I tasted salt and realized that all those years ago, my ingredients had been mislabeled. I’d baked a cake where the sugar and salt were swapped and I’d eaten it in front of everyone and demanded they eat it to and say that it’s delicious.
I baked a new cake with the real cake ingredients and when the cake came out it was actually delicious and didn’t require any pretending or demanding. People smelled it and wanted it. When they tasted it, they wanted more. Cake really IS delicious. That other thing wasn’t actually cake.
There is an imperative reason we need Holy Spirit to bring us into all truth.
That reason is that human language is not complex enough to adequately house the Word of God. Think about it. God was able to describe, define and manifest every molecule in the universe, every force of nature, every interaction, every chemical process, etc. with four words.
Kris Valloton brought this concept up in one of his podcasts from Bethel Church, Redding. I’ll have to paraphrase but, he was talking about how the Word of God existed before it was written down. If you were to burn every manuscript, every bible, every word and letter of all the scriptures everywhere, the Word of God would not cease to exist.
(Jesus was the Word of God manifested in human flesh. Crazy!)
For the Word of God to be living, active, at work within us, able to speak 100% truth into the depths of our beings, it would need to be dynamic because what gets past your filters and into your heart is different to what gets past my filters and into my heart. How can it possibly be dynamic once it’s committed to words on a page? Surely God knew that human beings use reading comprehension when reading. He made us that way on purpose.
Reading comprehension without a heart positioned to be led into all truth via relationship with Holy Spirit only gets us so far when many who’ve gone before us have had passed down to them a definition of love that is actually the other thing: Fear.
I know from experience that when I walked around under the impression that fear is love, it infected my entire model of the universe like a virus and I ended up with a slew of definitions from scripture where the opposing force was at work within me. I lived in bondage and called it freedom.
When I was afraid to lose someone, I would define that as loving them. That would lead me to ‘loving’ them by trying to mitigate the risk of losing them. Typically through control. That’s not love.
I also found myself feeling the need to come across to others like I was exhibiting the finished work of the fruit of the Spirit. We were all training ourselves to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. When you define the fruit of the Spirit as the strivings of the human will to be included in the group, you find burnout, disillusionment, cynicism, and all manner of terrible flesh fruit. These are all the fruit of an expression of Christianity with fear at it’s centre. I wouldn’t have ever admitted to this at the time though. It wasn’t intentional. I called it love. I definitely had love at the centre right? I mean, there just must be something terribly wrong with me for it to not work right? Cos the love of God never fails, so it must be me. Right?
Eventually, nearly my entire model of the universe had to come crashing down and I had to go to God and say, “I don’t think I can believe in You anymore.”
He had to say back to me, “Yeah, I don’t believe in that guy either. Let’s talk.”
Cake is cake. Freedom feels like freedom. The goodness of God is as constant as gravity. There is no mistaking His goodness at work just like there is no mistaking gravity at work. Sometimes people will throw a ball at a wall and tell you that gravity pushes things sideways. Or they’ll be out in space and they’ll throw the ball directly at the floor and say, “See? Gravity.”
But, we’re created in the image of the God who spits reality out of His mouth when He speaks. These days, we know better.