Friday, March 23, 2012

Whose Will Be Done?

"Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven..." (Matthew 6:10)
This was part of Jesus' instructions to His disciples about how to pray. Many of us say it, one way or another. (The model prayer was just that, a model to help us construct our own prayers - Jesus said "in this manner pray", not "repeat this word-for-word every time you pray" and He also warned against "vain repetition" in prayer.) ...But do we really mean it?

Do we really want God's will to be done, no matter what? ...Or do we assume that what we really, really want must be God's will, because we really, really want it? Are we willing to completely give up the things we think are important because God has something better in mind - even if that something better involves pain, suffering and tragedy throughout our human existence?

Many atheists and agnostics point to the horrible suffering and tragedy in the world as proof that there is no God. We call God our father - yet what loving father would allow his children to die of hunger when he had the power to prevent it?

The difference between God and mere human parents is that He has our Eternal interests at heart. Let me give an example. Yesterday morning, my oldest daughter went outside to find her treasured chicken lying dead with its head bitten off. If I had forseen that this would happen, I would have done everything I could to prevent it. God could have prevented it, but He didn't - not because He doesn't care about small things, but because He knows that there can be an eternal benefit from this small "tragedy" for my daughters or myself. Would I have had the courage to let the chicken have it's head bitten off if I could have prevented it, even knowing it would have some eternal benefit? I think perhaps not. God's will is that all should be saved and He will allow whatever suffering is necessary now to achieve that ultimate end - for all to share in the unimaginable joy of eternal life.

Sometimes I let my children suffer in small ways to help them learn important lessons. But could I bring myself to let one of them make a mistake that would leave them paralysed for the rest of their lives - even if I knew it would make the difference between them choosing Eternal Life and Eternal Death? As incomprehensible as it is to our human minds, the suffering that God allows in the world is proof of His incredible and boundless love for every single one of us. He knows that only tragedy and suffering - the results of us doing things our way - will prove that our way doesn't work... Only then will many finally choose Life.

Faith is not about believing that God will shield us from pain and make things better. Faith is trusting that even the pit of despair has a purpose. Faith is not the belief that God will give us our hearts desire, but that He will teach us to desire what is truly valuable.

Genuinely meaning it when we say "Your will be done" is an enormous step of faith. We are saying to God "I trust Your plans for my life, even if it means realising my worst fears." If we really mean it, "Your will be done" doesn't necessarily mean that the right job will turn up at the right time - it may mean that we are unemployed for life. "Your will be done" doesn't necessarily mean that our pain will stop or our sickness be healed in time - it may mean that we learn to live with increasing pain and incapacity.

God has promised that He will proved our basic physical needs. Jesus said
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:33)
All the way back in the book of Dueteronomy in the Old Testament, we read that Moses urged the Israelites to "choose life" (Dueteronomy 30:19). God's will is always for the best in the end - are we ready to choose life? Are we ready to take a step of faith into the great and terrifying unknown and say with conviction "Your will be done"?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Are You A Person?

In an article published in the Journal of Medical Ethics last month two Melbourne Scientists argued that "the newborn and the fetus are morally equivalent". They are right - a baby doesn't suddenly become a person at the moment of birth. However, they proposed that a newborn is not yet a person, but merely a "potential person".

The title of the article: "After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?" And so the false boundaries that humanity creates keep getting blurred. After all, if a baby can be legally killed moments before birth, why not moments after? And if it is acceptable to kill a child moments after birth, why not days, or weeks or months after? And if it is ethical to kill a baby, why not a child with an acquired brain injury, or an adult no longer able to care for themselves?

If we accept the idea of evolution, then we accept the idea that the value of a human being comes from their physical composition. If that physical composition is flawed and the person "broken", then why should they not be disposed of (if that's what you believe)?

I don't accept evolution and I don't believe that any human being has the right to determine when another human being should die, regardless of suffering. The wonderful thing about the boundaries that God sets is that they are clear and unchanging. There are no fuzzy lines. Any confusion comes from human beings trying to reason away the ten simple rules that God has given us to live by.

So what do you believe in? A world where a baby is not an "actual person" (but an animal may be considered an "actual person")? A world where the most vulnerable of all human beings have "no moral right to life"? A world where scientists philosophize away the basic value of a human being (unless they are "capable of making any aims" according to the scientists' judgement)?

Or do you believe that a person is something beyond the mere physical? Do you believe that we have a purpose?

Unless we accept God as our Creator, the definition of an "actual person" is sure to get more and more fuzzy. Each step we take away from God is another step into a morality minefield. Few of us are likely to come out the other end alive.