When we are young we have faith in our parents. We obey them (hopefully) because they love us and they show us how life is, and what it should be. As we get older we put faith in our teachers trusting that they are authorities on Mathematics, Science, English, and so on. Each time we learn, we receive by faith the things they teach us since we have no first-hand knowledge of the things they relate to us. It’s better than making each generation rediscover everything over again. However, there is a time to learn what others teach and a time to gather knowledge ourselves. We begin to have faith in ourselves that we have the capabilities to understand the right ways of life. In the process of attaining knowledge we endeavor to reject faulty knowledge. But, we cannot be 100% certain that the knowledge we acquire is free of corruption since it cannot be independently verified by an outside source. Although some people see evidence of a Creator, no 3rd party materializes in front of us to provide confirmation or denial of our findings, and these findings are subject to further criticism from every other person looking for answers or just looking to poke holes in other people’s findings. At this point, two types of people can emerge. The first is a person who begins to find the answers of life within himself, picking himself up by his bootstraps, so to speak, creating his own meaning and purpose, reality and truth. He has faith in himself. The other man perceives that his own reason has limitations and is therefore inadequate to get the answers needed. Since he perceives that the human experience is common to all, he looks for answers outside of himself and humanity. He puts faith in a 3rd party in order to confirm or deny his findings.
What is the difference between a man who has faith in himself and his human teachers, and the man who puts his faith in God? Both of them have faith, but the object of their faith is different. What are the outcomes?
The man who puts faith in himself eventually becomes selfish. This does not mean he only thinks of himself, but rather that all of his charitable and self-serving acts come from values formed from his own authority. His self and others like him are the highest forms of life he can find. He creates his own meaning, his own reality, his own purpose, and his own morality. Essentially he is his own property. He can do with himself what he wants. The obstacles to this, however, are others and laws of society. He respects others because it is reasonable, but he may decide that it is not reasonable if he so wishes. As his self grows in value, he can reason anything he wants. He eventually does not need society to decide what is right and wrong for him to do. If he kills someone it was for a good reason even if society does not agree. If he commits suicide he is only hurting himself and it is just fine because he is his own property. If he hurts others it can be justified. Reasons exist to respect other’s “property”, but reasons also exist that justify the disrespect of other’s “property”. The choice is his. He is the judge and jury. He could be the most moral person or the least moral person. Most everyone will not take it this far. They adopt this philosophy in moderation. Herein lies temporary harmony with the rest of men. However, this philosophy taken to the end of itself can lead to the destruction of self and others and it’s perfectly reasonable.
The man who puts his faith in God eventually becomes selfless. This does not mean he never thinks of himself, but rather that all of this charitable and self-serving acts are derived from values given by his Maker. God is the highest form of life he can find. In understanding God’s identity, he realizes his own identity, and derives from God his meaning, reality, purpose, and morality. Essentially, he is God’s property. He can do with himself what he wants, but he gives his self away to the Self of God. In this act, a new identity emerges that naturally follows the character of God. He respects others because they are God’s property, and we are all tenants, so to speak. He does not need society to decide what is right and wrong for him to do. If he kills someone he goes against God’s character. If he commits suicide he is destroying God’s property. If he justifies hurting others, he must ignore God’s laws. Reasons exist to respect God’s property. Reasons not to respect God’s property are products of a corrupt mind. The choice is still the man’s choice, but God is the judge and jury. The man’s degree of morality is dependent upon his conformity to the character of God. Most everyone will not take this as far as it will go. We don’t like to give up our selves completely. We adopt this philosophy in moderation. However, herein lies contention with men, God, and self. This philosophy taken to its end can diminish the self and the lead to a new identity created by God.
Now the paths are laid out before you. Which path will you choose?
(Picture created by Luke.)