Musician Ricky Martin once told reporters there is a spiritual side to his music: “My concerts are about joy, not feeling judged and being in touch with your soul. I want to find peace and to project peace.” An article went on to say that one of Martin’s videos features him dancing on top of a glass box with nude women inside. Responding to the suggestion that his act was “too sexual,” he said, “I’m tired of all that ‘Ooh’ stuff – let’s live, let’s get rid of taboo, and let’s start breathing, please.”
That is part of the problem with our culture today. We have done away with all the taboos. We have done away with all the absolutes. We have done away with all the rules. We need standards to live by, and to find those standards, we need God.
Some years ago, I spotted a brightly colored little bird nestled in the grass in my backyard. It wasn’t the kind of bird you would see out in the wild, and it was obviously someone’s pet. My German Shepherd had been intently staring at this little bird, which I realized was in danger of becoming an appetizer for my dog. So I walked up to the bird, crouched down, put out my index finger, and the little bird immediately hopped on.
My son knew of a little girl down the street who had a birdcage, so he went to borrow it. When we put the bird inside the cage, he jumped up on the little swing and started to chirp. At that moment I realized something: This bird was happy inside a cage. And he certainly was happier inside the cage than he was out in the wild.
Here is my point: God has put boundaries in our lives for our own good. Some people might look at Christians with our beliefs, standards and absolutes, and say, “You people live in a cage.” But it’s all in how you look at things. We can look at the standards God gives us as something to fence us in and make our lives miserable, or we can look at them in the right way and realize they are barriers of protection to keep us safe. God is looking out for us.
God, and God alone, is the true God. His knowledge and words are true, and they are the final standard of truth. And that is why we have problems in our culture. How will we be able to reach a consensus on the definition of right and wrong if we can’t even agree on who God is?
We have to start with God, believe that he exists, believe what he says about life and believe that his word is truth.
God says of himself, “The Lord is the only true God. He is the living God and the everlasting King!” (Jeremiah 10:10 NLT).
When the church where I pastor sent a team out on the streets to ask the question, “Are you a spiritual person?” the answers were revealing.
Statements ranged from “I don’t see how anyone could really know who God is” to “I think there are also different kinds of spirituality. You can go to church every Sunday and still not be a spiritual person. It is inside you, how you feel about it.”
So many of those interviewed said, “I feel this …” or “I think that …” or “My personal opinion is …” They had no basis for their opinion; they just went by their feelings. Yet going by what we think or feel can be dangerous. The universe does not revolve around you or me.
If God says something is true, then it is true, whether I agree with it or not. God is the final court of arbitration because we are flawed in our ability to know what is true and false and right and wrong.
God says, “Should the created thing say of the one who made it, ‘He didn’t make me’? Does a jar ever say, ‘The potter who made me is stupid’?” (Isaiah 29:16 NLT)
Imagine a potter working on some clay, when all of a sudden the clay declares, “I don’t want to be this! I don’t like what you are making me into!” That is what it’s like when we tell God that we don’t agree with him, that we think he is wrong on something.
God is the one who determines what truth is. His knowledge is perfect and without flaw. He is the final standard of truth.
Remember when your parents would say no when you asked for their permission to do something? When you followed it up with “Why?” they would say, “Because I said so.” It is the parents’ right to say that.
In a much broader sense, when we say, “God, I don’t understand this. Why do you allow this to happen? I don’t know if I agree with your decision,” God says that we will have to trust him. And it’s because He said so.
God is good whether we believe it or not. Jesus said, “No one is good but One, that is, God” (Matthew 19:17 NKJV). The psalms frequently refer to the fact that God is good and invite us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” So if God is good and therefore the ultimate standard of good, then we have a definition of good that will help us with our personal ethics and morality. What is good? Good is what God approves.
And why is what God approves called good? Because he approves it. There is no higher standard of goodness than God’s own character.