One of the great blessings God has given to us humans is the ability to imagine. Because we can imagine we can visualize things that do not yet exist. Our imagination also allows us to think about how things would be different if we changed this or that. Imagining what might happen helps us to avoid harm, or encourages us to try something different in order improve our situation. It is our imagination which allows mankind to make progress. Without the ability to see beyond what currently exists, there would be no invention, no striving to try something new.
Many people have the idea that it doesn’t really matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. Since God is loving, He would never rebuke or punish anyone for holding an honest opinion, would He?!
Those who think like this may be basing their assertion on several assumptions which are not necessarily correct. One such assumption is that all philosophies and religions are basically the same – there is no moral difference between them – they are just different paths to God. However, even a little thought shows that this cannot be so. Two philosophies or religions which contradict each other – particularly about the nature of God – cannot both be right.
It is not always easy to get ahead. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, it seems like our financial situation just continues to get worse. There are always unexpected expenses which drain our resources. Opportunities which looked like a “sure thing” fade away like the mist. We work hard; we try to be wise in the use of money; we do not waste what we have, yet we cannot make any progress.
This situation is not unique to us or to our time. Thousands of years ago God made this observation concerning the Israelites, “You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” (Haggai 1:6 NIV)
We like to think of ourselves as good and righteous. We may be willing to concede that we are not entirely perfect, but we still contend that we are better than most other people. After all, we haven’t done the horrible things they do!
At one point in their history, the ancient Israelites faced a tremendous problem. As a result of their unfaithfulness, God sent the Babylonians to invade them. The Babylonians captured many of the people and exiled them to Babylonia. Though they were captives, the exiles were relatively free to live their lives how they liked in Babylonia. What should they do? Should they put down roots in their new environment, or should they do the minimum to survive while they waited for the opportunity to move back to their homeland? In addition, what should their attitude be toward the people who had captured and exiled them? Should they oppose and do their best to subvert the Babylonians, or should they cooperate and get along with them?
We learn by doing. No matter how many facts we cram into our heads we will not really understand a subject until we put our knowledge into practice. For example, memorizing a textbook on bookkeeping is a very different thing from handling the accounts of a real business. Unless someone has actually kept the accounts and posted to the ledgers he cannot truly claim to understand to know bookkeeping.
Everywhere we look we are bombarded with advertisements. We are constantly urged to buy this, or go there. We are told that if only we have this gadget or use that product we will be so much happier or so much more successful. If we buy the latest fashion we will find acceptance. This lotion or cream will make us more beautiful.
There are many differences between people. Those who live in different areas of the world look different from one another. Their societies and cultures, their music, their concepts of beauty and their ways of thinking are quite different. However, one thing which all societies have in common is that they practice marriage. The rituals and ceremonies concerning marriage in one part of the world may be different than somewhere else, yet all peoples recognize the joining of a man and woman together to form a household.
We like to have control. We enjoy it when something responds to our command or touch upon the controls. To operate a machine which enables us to do more that we are physically capable of gives us a sense of power. We touch a lever and a power shovel takes a bite out of the earth. We twist a small wheel and it turns a huge truck or a ship. We press a key and a computer begins a complex task or computation. The bigger, more powerful, complex or dangerous the machine the greater the thrill there is in operating it.
When we look at the beauty of what God has made, our hearts rejoice. Like the Psalmist we cannot help but pour forth words of praise and thanksgiving. “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp. He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.” (Psalm 147:7-9 NIV)
Though we take delight in what God has made and in the bounty He gives us, it also raises a question. Does God take delight in us? How can we please Him?