Patterns, Principles and Perspectives
Many are weary of the shenanigans of global, national and local politicians, radicals, crooked corporations, rotten service providers, slack law enforcers and a long list of others infecting the world with negativity and nonsense. After a long history of this, one cannot but think that lives of the last ten generations are as fraught with friction as were the lives of the first ten generations after Noah, showing from then to now that people mostly remain no good and life is mostly not good – from a human perspective. Does it look the same from a biblical perspective?
Consider first the image or likeness of God according to which humans are made. An image is as an archetype, something like an embossed seal impressing the same image on wet clay; or as a mould into which wet clay is cast to reproduce the same image; or as a printing block with letters or characters carved in relief on the face as used in early letterpress printing. Similarly, a plant reproduces seed that grows into a replica of the parent plant. Whatever the example, the object reproduces the same image wherever it is applied.
Humans are made in God’s image. God is good. Humans are born to be good regardless of what folk think and say about each other. When humanity’s heart and conscience becomes warped and wrapped up in its own desires, this does not change the nature of the original Image nor his intentions for good.
Just as man is made in the image of God according to his pattern, so his ways, manner and models in the spiritual realm are repeated in the physical realm. The tabernacle is described as being patterned on that which is in heaven, not of a building but as the pattern for relationship and worship. The Kingdom and will of God is to be on earth as it is in heaven. With this as principle, consider the following examples or patterns.
First, life could not come from the void in Genesis 1:1 without the power of creation exerted upon it. Something had to stir up life. The Red Sea did not open to Moses until he lifted his hands. The Jordan did not part until the priests bearing the ark stepped into it. A fire does not exist if there is no spark to set it alight. A row of dominoes will not fall unless one is first tipped over. An echo cannot reverberate if someone had not first called out. Redemption was foregone by the crucifixion. No event can happen without another preceding it. The word ‘event’ means ‘that which happens’ or ‘the consequence of anything.’ Nothing happens in a vacuum. Everything has a cause, which was dependent on a previous cause.
Life is a sequence of events, of choices, actions and reactions. It is as a road trip that starts, turns corners, hits cul-du-sacs, makes U-turns, takes a set route, lands in congested traffic, has pit stops, punctured tyres, overnight rests, missed off ramps, wrong lanes, detours, arrivals and return trips, each of these setting another event in motion.
Incidentally, think of the times you are waiting for God to do something, while he is waiting for you. Faith is an act. Lift your hands, step into the water, strike a match, tip over the first domino, call out. Pray. Act. Possess.
God’s patterns and ways are spiritual laws, which like natural laws exert influence. If someone drops an apple, gravity will draw it to the ground, regardless of who dropped the apple or under what circumstances. Choice and consequence, sowing and reaping, cause and effect are undeniable spiritual laws. God’s justice and righteousness are the foundations of his throne. According to these, he rules, acts and reacts regardless of person, circumstance or preceding event. Nothing more nothing less, all his acts are conducive to good life despite arguments against or denial thereof. The bible is clear on which events, actions and attitudes bring life, and which do not.
The ways of God are meant for good. Life is intended to be good. Lucifer, created as bright and beautiful light bearer and protector, choose self-idolizing and rebellion. Lucifer was cast from heaven. When humanity turns from goodness, God’s patterns, modes, ways and spiritual laws remain good. God remains just and righteous. Humanity’s choices do not change him. Humanity's choices, its exercised will, determine the outcome of its choices.
Second, a principle central to life itself is that life does not exist for itself. Creation itself is testimony to this principle and God’s plans. All life and living is interdependent, even a single tree alone in a great savannah. Its leaves gather sunlight necessary for its biological existence, but those same leaves also provide food and shade for roving creatures, which help with pollination and leave behind fertiliser for its roots.
All of nature’s kingdoms and classifications are dependent on each other in a finely tuned balance. Upsetting this balance has led to numerous environmental problems. Further, both natural life and human life depend on each other. Living contrary to this principle is detrimental to all life. Life is given to the good of everybody; one shared life; one shared earth, one sun that gives life and light to everybody.
All human kingdoms and classifications are designed to be dependent on others. The Exodus included other people groups leaving Egypt with Israel. If they rejected Israel and the opportunity to leave Egypt with them, they would not have survived on their own. They depended on the group and received the same guidance, protection, manna and quail as Israel. The gospel was given to the Jews first. The spiritual life of the Gentiles was dependent on them sharing the news. The Holy Spirit settled on all those in the room at Pentecost, not only the first 12 disciples and all of those present went out spreading the gift of life to the nations. Life is intended to be good and be good for everybody with each needing something and each sharing something.
The apostles had first-hand experience of life with the Messiah to share; the apostles needed churches to support them. The early church spread far beyond Jerusalem; the early church needed the support of Jerusalem’s established church. Churchgoers depend on their leaders for teaching and guidance; leaders depend on churchgoers to pay their tithes to run the church and minister to everybody.
Everybody needs somebody; everybody is needed by somebody. If one prefers not to depend on others, others will not want to depend on one, befriend one or trust one. Isolation sets in. Isolation is not God’s plan. He sets the solitary in families. He told the disciples to feed his sheep, collected together as an interdependent flock.
The principle of interdependence is valid on global and national level too. For example, if nation A is favoured with mineral resources, but not with the technology to extract the resources, then nation B who has the technology can come in to extract the resources to the well-being of both nations. This is sharing God-given wealth. History teaches however, that nation B colonises nation A, enslaves it people and takes all the wealth for itself. Centuries ago nation X provided nation Y with silk and tea. Nation X did not want to buy anything from nation Y in return, thereby filling only the coffers of nation X. Nation Y became devious, made the people of nation X dependent on a substance that could only be purchased outside their nation, emptying the coffers of nation X.
God’s healthy trade, interdependence and wealth sharing was replaced by greed and theft. Humanity’s reward for its selfish choices is virulent corruption, deceit and lies in the attempt to outsmart others. Alliances made amongst nations to the exclusion and detriment of other nations is rewarded by floods of immigrants, industrial espionage and political skull-duggery of the worst kind.
The life and being of one person, nation, organisation or group is to be lived knowing that it depends on God and others and others depend on God and it. Note that establishing one’s own culture and ways within their boundaries promotes God-pleasing diversity, not division.
Where humanity devises selfish inward-living designs, the result is hunger, starvation, sickness, wars, uprisings, trouble and sickness in, around and against them, which anyway become a threat to their health and wealth. Human actions do not change God, his models or patterns of interdependence. Humanity’s choices do not change God. However, its choices, its exercised will, determine the outcome of their choices.
God is good. Man is born for good. God is just and righteous. God is Love. God provides good living enough for all. He does not vary from this. He does not change his mind and is consistent in his manners and actions. Nothing that humanity does can change him, his principles, standards, moral codes or virtues. This is why one can trust him and have faith in his promises; knowing that what he said, he will do.
Humanity, knowing God and his principles for successful living yet still choosing to live contrary to them, causes its own problems. Humanity receives God’s grace when it acknowledges its mistakes. Humanity is rewarded according to its choices.
This is the biblical perspective on people, life and living - a perspective that is simple, true, tested, easy to understand, easy to follow. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For good or for bad, as humanity chooses, so it will live.
All this sounds harsh, unloving and callous towards those who are forced to make choices against their will or have no choice at all or are poor and vulnerable. These, however, are the very ones that believers are tasked to care for while the perpetrators who cause the suffering are the very ones for whom harsh judgment is reserved.
Further, one cannot use God’s justice and righteousness as an excuse not to stand by those who made wrong decisions and are suffering for it. Why help somebody who is responsible for their own predicament? Believers, the salt and light to the world, are to help all who suffer, regardless that they brought their problems upon themself. The principle here is to leave judgment to God, aid those that are hurting or suffering, whatever it takes, as long as it takes and not for any reward.
God is good. Man is good. Therefore, life is good. Where it is not, believer, go make it so. Let the nations see the heart of God.