Eyes That See

“I Once Was Blind”

“Proudly, Guiltlessly, Confidently, Joyously Alive”

Is there a difference between “living” and “living.”  I think so.  A guy that I used to play basketball after church with when I was in high school used to ask me if I was going to “show up” or just “show up.”  The implication there was that everybody who goes to the gym “shows up,” but only a few actually “show up,” or make an impact, or dominate.  I think that is a subtle difference that can be translated into the difference between “living” and “living.”

One of Ayn Rand’s characters in her novel “Atlas Shrugged” described another character thusly:

“[You were] proudly, guiltlessly, confidently, joyously alive.”

Now, do you want to merely be “alive,” or do you want to be “alive” like that?  I think that the answer to that question is obvious, so we will move on to the next one: How do you get there?  There are several possibilities to ponder, but I have chosen three, those put forth by Ayn Rand, Joel Osteen, and the apostle Paul, and we will use the line from Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” as the litmus.

Rand believed that objective reason in the pursuit of one’s own happiness was the means to a full life.  She believed that the mind was the motive power of the world, and that purpose and reason and motivation fueled the world as the diesel fueled the trains on the tracks of her heroine Dagny Taggart’s Taggart Transcontinental Railroad.  However, I do not believe that Rand’s philosophy satisfies even her own standards.  I believe that a life driven by objective reason could very well lead a person to be proudly, confidently, and joyously alive, but what about guiltlessly?  What about the times when a person has faulty reasoning or forgoes reason altogether?  The short-term vs. long-term conundrum alone throws a wrench into her ethics.  If we are to, by means of objective reason, pursue our own happiness, what do we do when our short-term happiness comes at the sacrifice of our long-term happiness?  We all face that situation nearly every day, don’t we?  The happiness from eating something deliciously unhealthy vs. the happiness of physical fitness and/or appearance; the happiness of buying the temptor in front of us vs. saving for the big purchase in our sights six months from now; etc. 

So, as we contemplate the word “guiltlessly,” and how it fits into Rand’s recipe for life, we have a discrepancy.  With as many decisions as we all make every minute of every hour of every day, how can living a life driven by objective reason be “guiltless”?  In one of two ways, I believe:  either by never making a mistake, or by seperating mistakes from consciousness.  Sure, you could somewhat atone for a mistake by either repaying whatever loss your mistake caused to other people and/or learning from the mistake and not repeating it, but I do not believe that either of those options erase the guilt of a mistake.  So, in order to be guiltless, an objective reason-ist, assuming he or she has made at least one mistake, must seperate any and all mistakes from their conscious awareness.  But, I do not believe that anybody could, especially from an objective viewpoint, call such a person guiltless.  The only solution would be to turn to subjective measures, which I assume Rand would oppose, and feel “guiltless” because he or she is not as “guilty” as the next person.  None of those options provide true guiltlessness, so we must move on to other sources.

On to Mr. Osteen.  I might not know enough about Joel Osteen to be as critical as I am of him, but I am not very fond of what I do know of him.  He is a pastor who forsakes what the Bible instructs of pastors.  But, he has written two books that warrant him for consideration in pondering the pursuit of being alive.  The titles of his two books are “Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential” and “Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day.”  With book titles like that, it would seem as though Joel Osteen knows how to be “proudly, guiltlessly, confidently, joyously alive,” right?  I haven’t read his books, but you can google “Joel Osteen” and preview them both.  There you can find both of his seven-step processes to “Your Best Life Now” and to becoming “A Better You.”  If Osteen had a road map to being alive, then I would think that his seven steps would not change as much as they did from ’04’s “Best Life” to ’07’s “Better You”:

“Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential”
1. Enlarge Your Vision
2. Develop a Healthy Self-Image
3. Discover the Power of Your Thoughts and Words
4. Let Go of the Past
5. Find Strength Through Adversity
6. Live to Give
7. Choose to Be Happy

“Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day”
1. Keep Pressing Forward
2. Be Positive Toward Yourself
3. Develop Better Relationships
4. For Better Habits
5. Embrace the Place Where You Are
6. Develop Your Inner Life
7. Stay Passionate About Life

Who knows whether or not his seven steps will change just as drastically in the next three years as they did from ’04 to ’07?  Regardless, I think we can use these fourteen steps to decide whether or not Osteen can lead us to being “proudly, guiltlessly, confidently, joyously alive.”  With all of the goodness that can be garnered from Osteen’s fix yourself, Dr. Phil-esque self-help books, I think that he, like Rand, fails to address the issue of guilt.  So regardless of whether or not Osteen can lead us to be “proudly, confidently, joyously alive,” he cannot lead us to be guiltless simply by ignoring guilt.  So, at least by Rand’s litmus line, Osteen cannot lead us to our full potential.

So what does the apostle Paul have to say about this matter?  We’ve taken a look at Osteen’s modern attempt and Rand’s attempt from her philosophy, which she put forward in the form of a novel in 1964 with “Atlas Shrugged.”  Now lets go back almost two-thousand years to the Jewish genius Paul, and see what he thought about living.

According to Paul, those who are justified in the eyes of God, by faith in Jesus Christ- faith that His perfection and His righteousness were imputed to us, in exchange for our sins which were imputed to Him; faith that His death on the Cross paid the penalty of our sins, so that we don’t have to pay that penalty with our death- are sons of God, fellow heirs with Christ, and will inherit the world.  What could bring more pride, confidence, and joy than knowing that you are a child of God and that you will inherit the world?  And what guilt can a person have when God, who is the ultimate victim of every sin we commit, declares us guiltless?  And the justification by faith that Paul taught provides both the eternal joys of being a child of God and being with God for eternity and the present joy and contentment and satisfaction of being a child of God and a citizen of heaven here on earth.  And although Christianity has become associated with the negative connotation of sacrificing one’s desires for the good of another, I agree with John Piper that true Christianity does not see anything as a sacrifice if it is in the name of Jesus Christ and for the benefit of His Kingdom.  And, any such sacrifice would be made in love and would be no sacrifice because the rewards dwarf any benefits or desires that are given up.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:44

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January 5, 2008 Posted by | Ayn Rand, child of God, Christ, God, happiness, Jesus, Joel Osteen, joy, justification by faith, Life, living, perfection, potential, pure, righteous, Satisfaction, the apostle Paul | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Best News

What is the Best News that God, the Bible, and Christianity have to offer?

God created this world, and it is magnificent.  But is that the Best News?

Hell is more infinitely terrible than our simple brains can fathom, and in Jesus, God gives us a “get of hell free” card.  But is that the Best News?

Heaven is as infinitely great as hell is infinitely terrible and then some, and God tells us in His Word that by putting our faith in His Son we can spend eternity in heaven.  But is that the Best News?

God loves us and wants us to be happy, and as our Father He wants to bless us with every good thing and every perfect gift.  But is that the Best News?

Those are all included in the great news that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but John Piper would say that none of those things qualify as the Best News that God, the Bible, and Christianity have to offer.  Piper would say that the Best News is that, through Christ, we are able to have an intimate knowledge of God and enjoy Him forever.  And after listening to his two-part message called “Sex and the Supremacy of Christ”, I joyfully concur. 

What I love about John Piper is how Biblically solid he is and how he always strives to exult Jesus Christ.  Because he backs up what he says with the Word of God (and usually with multiple texts), it is often impossible to both accept that the Bible is the Word of God and logically disagree with Piper.  And because he strives to ceaselessly exult Jesus, I rarely leave his books or sermons without a desire to imitate him in that fashion.

 The “Sex and the Supremacy of Christ” messages were intended to give his audience the best way to Godly sexuality, but the Supremacy of Christ was indubitably the central theme.  And the Supremacy of Christ is essential to both living the Christian life and combatting the sins of this world.  Therefore, although the message was intended to encourage Godly sexuality, the messages can definitely be applied to all areas of the Christian life. 

You can hear part 1 here:  http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByDate/1657_Sex_and_the_Supremacy_of_Christ_Part_1/

And part 2 here:  http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByDate/184_Sex_and_the_Supremacy_of_Christ_Part_2/

October 27, 2007 Posted by | Bible, Blessed, Blessings, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Delight, Desiring God, Doers of the Word, Faith, Father, Giver, God, Heart, Infinite, John Piper, Life, Lord, Pleasure, Prosperity, Religion, righteousness, Satisfaction, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, The Law of the Lord, The Resurrection, the Word of God | Leave a comment