Welcome to the Real World (4)

I know it’s been a while, but I’m finally going to wrap up this little series, I think. This last article I want to write is about reality. It’s a crazy thing to me that this even needs to be discussed, but I’ve found that in the real world, people simply can’t agree on what is “real” and “true.” This is a big part of the postmodern era in which we live.

One phrase or idea I have heard countless times in college from my freshman year roommate, classmates and teachers is that everyone has their own reality. What’s real for me might not be real for you, and what’s true for me might not be true for you.  If you think I’m kidding, I’m not. People teach this, they live for this belief.  Relative truth and relative reality is a very serious part of what we face in the real world. It may seem crazy to us that someone would really go along with such an absurd idea. After all, how can there be two realities, or two truths? We know to reject this idea because we believe in the sovereignty of God alone, and we know His truth and His reality to be the only ones to follow.

People teach that while abortion might be wrong for me, it’s not wrong for everyone, that gay marriage might be wrong for me, but it isn’t wrong for everyone. They even say that the belief of creation might be true for me, but evolution is true for other people.

I found one very logical way to combat this with my freshman year roommate. We lived on the ground floor, and shortly before moving out we were having another of our classic “Christianity versus Wicca” debates. She told me that she admired how strongly I held to my beliefs, and that she could tell that they were truth and reality for me. I told her that it’s not just truth for me, but for everyone, whether they agree with me or not. She kind of shrugged that off, probably not wanting to get into it. I looked out the window of our first floor dorm room and asked her what she saw outside. She responded that she saw a tree. So, I asked her how she thought that tree got there. She told me that she believed that over millions and millions of years, that tree (not that literal tree of course) evolved from a single cell into the species of tree, and eventually through that process the tree she saw outside came to be. I then told her that I believed that about 6,000 years ago, God spoke, and a tree appeared, and by each tree bearing its own fruit, and God’s continued, spoken word, that tree got to be where it was that day. She smiled as if the thought was nice, until I asked her to confirm that we were talking about the same tree. Her face dropped and she said yes. I asked her to confirm that we were living in the same universe, the same dimension, if you will. She, again, said yes. I told her then that tree only got to be there one way. It can’t have two beginnings. I told her that one of us is wrong.

I know I’m not wrong. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m not wrong about how that tree came into existence. To be fair, my roommate thinks she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt too. This is the level of deceit Satan plays on the world around us. He tricks them into believing ridiculous things like everyone having their own reality. This is a scary thought!

This is, obviously, about much more than a tree. It’s about the world we live in as a whole, and the morality and ethics that surround us. Morality is not something that changes from person to person, but something that is constant, based on God’s Word alone. Each person does not decide for themselves what is real or what is true, but there is only one Truth and one Reality, based on the one God.

Amidst this craziness in the world, like in all things, we put our trust in God. No matter the scoffing, the mockery or the ridicule, we stick to our guns and remember that we know how the world came to be. We know what right and wrong is, no matter the hypocrisy of the world. We will not be tossed about with every wave of doctrine (Eph. 4:14). We know our Creator; we have very clear words from him on how our world came to be, how we are to live, and what is true and real for us in this world. There is no deciding for ourselves or making it up as we go. There is only following His law for us, and trusting in His Word.

Suzie Kuiper

Why We Go To Church

A few months ago Joel Osteen’s wife Victoria made the following statement: “when you go to church, you’re not doing it for God, you’re doing it for yourself.” The problem with her comment is not the idea that we benefit from going to church (we certainly do!), but her assertion that the reason we should go to church is mainly, if not exclusively, for ourselves. In other words, we go to church so that we can look good in the eyes of parents, friends, coworkers and others we come into contact with. More to the point, Osteen’s statement means that we go to church because God’s chief purpose and desire for us is our personal happiness. This idea, however, is entirely opposed to Scripture and the Confessions. The Westminster Confession, for example, states that the “chief end of man… is to glorify and praise God forever.” We go to church because we can’t find our salvation anywhere else than in God. “Then Simon Peter answered and said unto him, Lord to whom shall we go? for thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). The apostles further established this when they refused to stop preaching Jesus after the Pharisees told them to stop their preaching. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). We do derive blessings from church, but they are spiritual rather than earthly in nature. God admonishes, strengthens and comforts us through the preaching of His word and confirms our faith through the use of the sacraments.  We also strengthen and confirm each other’s faith by interacting with each other as friends  and in Bible studies. We do go to church for our own benefit and profit, but not in the way that Joel and Victoria Osteen think. God’s goal is not our happiness, but His glory. Our goal too should be God’s glory. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:20). May God grant that this be the case!

Kevin Rau

Welcome to the Real World (1)

When one of my older brothers graduated from high school, apparently my dad shook his hand and said “Welcome to the real world. You have no idea what’s waiting for you.” Now, there are a lot of things about Covenant that I love, and one of the main ones is the immersion in Christian living and the application of Christ to every aspect of life. Some call that sheltered, and in a way, maybe it is. I choose to call it blessed. None the less, not many who graduate from Covenant have at the time much firsthand experience with people of other religions, ethnicities, cultures, etc. We learn about them, no doubt, but it is different firsthand. Believe me.

I have to say dad was right. I had no idea what was out there either, but it only took me a few months to find out. After I graduated in 2012, I had already been accepted to Michigan State and had enrolled in my classes. The only thing I was waiting on was to hear my dorm room assignment and find out who my roommate was. I was going in blind, meaning my roommate was pretty much drawn out of a hat. Providence, more accurately, placed me in the room I lived in during the academic year of 2012-13. I have had a lot of people ask me about this story, so I’m going to spend a couple of articles telling a few stories about the experiences I had with my freshman year college roommate.

I found out sometime in July or August, I think. I got an email with my roommate’s name and email address. I emailed her and we quickly added each other on Facebook (because Facebook stalking is the best way to learn about someone…). So I went to her timeline and perused through her pictures, posts and shares. Then, to the real stuff: her “about” section. I called my mom in a panic when under “political views” I read the phrase “die-hard liberal” and her religion was stated as “Wicca.”

I googled, I researched, I read up on this stuff. I knew the word, but not much about Wicca.  But again, book learning didn’t really teach me anything compared to living with her firsthand.  The first night we spent on campus together, we were up until 2 am hashing things out, civilly of course. I found out a lot about this religion, so I’ll spend some time talking about what Wicca is, as I learned it from my roommate. It might differ from what others know about Wicca, but as I understand it, that’s normal for the religion.

In Wicca, in my roommates own words: “you kind of make it up as you go.” Each Wiccan, while identifying one’s self with the religion, is free to choose their own pantheon. That is, each and every Wiccan has their own group of deities that they worship. My roommate, for example chose to follow the Greek gods (Apollo, Zeus, Athena). The uniting factor is that above and beyond their pantheon, they have a very nature based religion. They truly believe in the Mother Earth and the spiritual alive-ness of the earth itself, including trees, the sun, moon and stars, and their worship and practices revolve around this. There is, of course, more to the religion, but there’s a reason this will take several articles.

So let’s just deal with the deities today. The thing that struck me from day one is that, if each Wiccan chooses for herself (or himself) a set of deities to follow, how is this one religion? Some are monotheistic, some are polytheistic, but all are pantheistic. You have those who worship only the earth, those who worship the classic Wiccan gods (a “horned god” from what I’ve read), Greek gods, Roman gods, Buddha, or any combination of the above.  This idea that you can choose your own gods, and make it up as you go along gives no stability to the religion of Wicca.

As Christians, we have a very different hope. We know that our God doesn’t change, no matter who you talk to. The God of Moses’ burning bush is also my God. The same Deity I worship is the God that the apostle Paul worshipped on the road to Damascus. The same God that I pray to, Adam walked with in the Garden of Eden. Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.” That is not a confession Wicca can claim. Their gods are all different, and they change from Wiccan to Wiccan. Not our God. Our God unifies us, we are one. Ephesians 4:4-6 describes it well: “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

This unity is so incredible, and I took it for granted, up until I realized that not all religions have that. I think this is a powerful indicator of the purity and truth of our religion. We know that we follow the one true God because there is no changing, no guesswork, no making it up as we go. We have a vivid description of Him that we know is true because it is He Himself who reveals it to us by His Word. Wicca simply could not be the true religion because how can there be truth where there is disagreement on which the real deity is?

I think one of the most beautiful things in the world is that there are many Christians that I know, and I can walk up to them and have a unified conversation about who we believe God to be. It’s not a debate, or a competition, just a discussion. I know that my fellow Christians agree with me on who God is, they know Him to have the same traits that I know Him to have, they have a personal relationship with Him, just as I do, and we will both know Him intimately and deeply. We both know that He is one God, three persons, loving, holy, just, pure and intolerant of sin. We both know that we are loved, not just by some being, somewhere, but loved by the same God, the only God. Reader, if you are a child of God, think of the unity this brings to the church. The same God that sent His Son for you sent His Son for me. We may have never met before, you might not know me from Adam, but we are loved by the same God. This unifies us in a way that no other false religion can ever experience. Blest be the tie that binds!

Suzie Kuiper