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Epic Theology

Finding God through the lens of an artist

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Question Everything

Hey folks.

This week has seen more than its share of activities, and for that reason I am three days late in my post. I contemplated just waiting for tomorrow and resuming my regular schedule, but I have something that I really want to talk about before finishing our conversation about God and Fantasy. It’s an event that I’m going to be part of, and would love to have others join me. An event called Alpha.

If you live in Alberta and have been anywhere near a TV, YouTube, or a bus, you’ve probably seen this advertisement: question everything. It asks if you’ve ever had questions about the big issues of life, and if so, to check out their site, http://questioneverythingab.ca. As part of my aim as a Christian artist is to ask and explore the questions that can’t be answered by an encyclopedia, I’m very excited to be part of the Alpha campaign.

Alpha is a seven week course that is designed to be a place to explore the big issues of God, purpose, and life. It is a place to come together with others who are seeking truth, share some food, and get to the nitty gritty of the spiritual journey. There is a video to watch each week (about half an hour, if I’m not mistaken), but most of the time is spent discussing the questions we all have: Does God exist? How can we know? Who was Jesus Christ? Why am I here? What do I do now? There are people set up to lead and facilitate each discussion, but most of the time is free to talk about whatever spiritual issues the group wants to address.

I am one of these table leaders for my church in Calgary. I am privileged to sit down with other seekers and walk with them on the path. If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know that I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I can definitely help those seeking the path to God. At the very least, my aim is to create a place where it is safe to vent all of our questions, frustrations, and anxieties with others who are traveling along the same road. That was what I needed when I began my journey back into Christianity, and my hope is to offer the same to others.

My challenge, for those who are seeking spiritual guidance, is to find an Alpha course near you. They are being offered all the time, and if you live in Alberta, there is going to be one near you sometime in the next few weeks. Perhaps you have reservations about Christianity, and that’s fine. You don’t need to make any commitment at any time. You can walk away at the end and decide that Christianity still isn’t for you. But if you do decide that you want some answers about God, come to the first session and see what we have to say.

And so, I challenge everyone looking for answers to the big questions. Find an Alpha course, grab a friend, and go to the first session. You’ll probably get a free dinner out the the event, and maybe learn something new. A similar course (called Christianity Explored) changed my life almost four years ago. If you live in Calgary, come out to RockPointe Church on September 26th. I’m leading a table at the Bearspaw site, and would love to chat.

Blessings

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Seeking Identity, Finding God

“Why am I here?”

The idea of purpose haunts many people, myself included from time to time.  We have been sold the idea that our purpose on this planet is to consume goods to make ourselves happy and further our economies, but many are finding this purpose to be shallow and unsatisfying.  Generations are embarking on a spiritual journey to find a better purpose. But perhaps we are missing a more basic question: “Who am I?”

Identity and purpose are intimately linked. Runners run. Poets write poetry. Bankers handle money. When we label ourselves with an identity, we are able to move forward with a purpose.  To many, the search for identity is like shopping for clothes: we try on a number of labels until we find one that we like. We become writers until we realize that we don’t like writing.  We become outdoor enthusiasts until our allergies force us indoors. The pattern continues until we find a passion that sticks, and we keep that label. And we pray that we don’t get bored. Yet, maybe there is another, more full sense of identity that goes beyond our daily activities, one that digs deeper than what we do.

For those on a faith journey, there is another question that must be addressed as we try to figure out who we are: “Who is God?” Who is this entity that created me? This question is impossible to answer in full, and difficult to answer at all. Most religions agree that “God” is either infinite, or so beyond our comprehension that it is impossible for us to understand Him in His completeness. The finite trying to capture the infinite seems like an exercise in futility, but is perhaps the most important endeavor we can undertake.

For my own journey, the questions of “Who am I?” and “Who is God?” have been inseparable since the start. The more I understood about God, by studying Scripture and speaking with others on a similar journey, the more I learned about who I am. In turn, the more I understood about who I was, my own strengths and weaknesses, lead to a greater understanding of who God is. The quest for my identity and that of my God are two sides of the same coin.

I wonder, is the big idea of this world to seek self-actualization, the answer to “Who am I?” or is it to understand the infinite, “Who is God?” Perhaps it is both. Perhaps it is impossible to answer one without addressing the other. If our destiny, purpose, and identity are tied in with our deity, then maybe we need to spend our entire lives reexamining our answers to these two questions. Perhaps.

Yet this is not always easy, and there are pitfalls we tend to fall into. The easiest trap is to create a God in our own image. Genesis tells us that God created humanity in His image, but many of us have turned that around.  We create a God that fits in with what we know about ourselves and the our understanding of the world. Artists can read through the Bible and see that God is an artist. PETA activists can look at God’s work in nature and know that God is an animal-rights activist. Administrators can see, throughout history, that God is the ultimate CEO of creation. All of these can be true, but they fall terribly short of who God is. God is love, but God is also wrathful. Too few wrestle with the apparent contradictions in God’s character, leaving themselves with a half-understood deity that does not hold against pressure from other seekers.

Another terrifying question that may confront us as we honestly seek our identity is “What if I’m not the hero?” What if it’s not all about me? This was the hardest part of my journey. I could understand my sin, the brokenness of the world, and the goodness of God. But I could not accept that I was not the hero of my story; that I could not pull myself out of the hole of my self-inflicted pain to become righteous. I could work harder to become a better person, but without divine help, I could not earn my salvation. This is the unique message of Christianity. Though the ethics and morality of many religions are similar, if not the same, Christianity alone teaches that Jesus Christ is the hero of the story. He paid the price for my sin, and nothing I can do can add to that. Its humbling, to say the least.

What about you? Are you the hero of your story? Have you delved into the heart of who you are and why you’re here? Perhaps it is time to look into your life and see if there is something more than you currently life for. For me, I found Christ, a God-man that is the centre of my identity and purpose.  What is yours?

Blessings

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