To Be The Best

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I wish to influence people to be the best people they can be. In order to do this I have to begin with looking to humans themselves for what they need to be happy and productive as well as good people.
The list of what humans need to do this seems really not too long. Much of human need concerns physical and material things. There is certainly nothing wrong in that. But the list of things necessary to fulfill human needs also includes spiritual awareness, and spiritual development.

As Jesus pointed out, “man does not live by bread alone.” The idea man can live by bread alone is ludicrous but lasting. Living by bread alone is an error in logic due to an overly literal mind. It is a mistake
literal thinkers are prone to slip into. It is a one dimensional mode of thought for those who not only think but feel in a very short sighted manner. (However, living it is like trying to drive a car with only one gear to shift into.) Yet there remains today a very widespread error in thought that mere materialism is all there is.

Man is too big for materialism alone. There are truths buried in his nature that contradict mere materialism. These truths in our nature affirm and reaffirm spirituality. There is a feeling of God that explodes in our natures like spontaneous combustion. It is what we know from what we are. We have been mercifully endowed by our Creator through nature with certain truths and one is there is a God, a supreme Deity, that at times we are naturally aware of. There are, for example, no atheists in fox holes as well as other more positive circumstances.

Mankind ‘s instinctive vision includes a spiritual longing deep in the nature of mankind. We know this from what we are and because we are what we are and who we are. The desire for God in us is as old as nature. Affirming God springs up within us naturally. We may dispute about what the Deity is like but not that the Deity is. Such is the social history of mankind. It argues a great deal about what conception of God is most correct but rarely if He is.

Those asking us not to be our natural believing selves are asking us to deny ourselves, to be less than what we are. It is not fair to ask humanity not to believe and be less that what humanity is and was meant to be. Does anyone seriously want a person to be less than he or she can be? That is not to develop spiritually? My suggestion has always been for people to trust this insight in their natures and believe in God. Trust the truths in yourselves and believe just as you trust the truths in yourself and one day love. Not to believe is some weird form of denial of the natural self like masochism. This is like choosing never to love anyone in any way that is some strange form of self-destruction that is not wise or natural. It is a partial suicide of the self

The Creator God through nature has endowed us with certain feelings. One of these is awareness of God. God was a truth too important to mankind to wait for scholarly explanation if and when it might come.
God is a basic truth similar to love. The natural belief in God nearly all experience at some time is an awareness granted by the Creator through His common grace to all. Nearly every people in history record feelings of God and an awareness of God’s existence to some degree.

The basic belief in God that nearly everyone has or experiences is part of the knowledge we are endowed and imbued with through nature for our welfare. It was and is a truth too important to wait. So we were endowed by God with it at the time of our creation.

It is a truth one does not have to understand to use. A person does not scientifically need to explain it to use it. We simply find ourselves knowing it and doing it. (Common grace includes all good things given by God the Creator of all peoples to use and enjoy. It includes sun, wind, rain, love, earth and the awareness of God. ) No one has to justify grace to use it. Things of grace were provided to be enjoyed by anyone with enough common sense of sufficient gumption to use them.

Do we scientifically have to prove the rights of man or do we accept them because they are built in us? We accept them because we sense they are real and they are right. Everyone has a right to justice. We know this from inside ourselves. That is why this virtue like God’s existence has been recognized from the beginning. The Old Testament tells us how justice shall come down like an ever rolling stream. Justice began as a virtue and ended finally universally recognized as a right.

Do we not sense that we are children of God? Nature has imbued in us an awareness of immortal origins and insights of grace that go far beyond the laboratory. One of the insights we are graced with is the existence of God. Rhythms of common in nature may be observed or felt by us in nature. Having to wait to believe in God until some sort of mathematical theory is developed is sheer nonsense. Do you need to prove the rights of man in a laboratory before you vote? If you want to, that’s all right. If you have to, you’re crazy

All this flatuosity about how mankind must have proof of God before believing in God is illogical. Man knows the truth truths from his nature . Do you have to wait until love is mathematically proved before
acknowledging it?. That reminds me of the mind set of parents who don’t want their daughter to get married until the boy has proven himself. The girl will be an old maid and the boy will go to another girl
who wants to spend the fun years of making it together. It reminds me of the couple waiting until they have enough money to have children. Nobody ever has that much money. Besides the more you get,
the more you need. The couple can forget the kids. They will never appear in a life of materialism.

Why should humans have to reinvent the wheel? Why should anyone wait to believe until some scientific insight is discovered when through your nature you know it all along. In the meantime people determined not to believe in God until He is proven do miss the fun years of first believing and of proving God to themselves. The first years with God in which you are finding truly there is a God are like the first years of marriage, the best if not the greatest years.

The best years are the uncertain beginning years of the relationship with God when we are learning to work with God and many new, exciting truths appear. The older people have told us about God
all along, but we were inexperienced in God. Then what we had been told springs to emotional life. We begin to understand emotionally the Bible truths we have been told.

Learning about God is taught through our applying and doing. In interaction He becomes real. Through applying God’s teachings in a relationship we learn He is. How exciting that is. The best example I
can suggest is that of a new baby. Everybody knows about babies, but until you have one, you don’t really KNOW about babies. From interaction with God a new consciousness is born from knowing a new love. It is the same with God. Everybody knows about God but until you have a working relationship with Him, you never really KNOW God. He becomes a part of you.

It is so much of a backward step in life to be kept from knowing and enjoying God if you refuse to admit He is out there because it’s not intellectually fashionable. God is everywhere, out there and inside us. You know this through your nature. But you have been afraid to trust yourself. What you need is the grace, the gumption, the bravery to try Him and see for yourself. When you reach out for God, you find He responds. And the love of God is like that of a baby. You realize the baby loves you no matter what. You are beginning a relationship with God.

When wind is out there, all you have to do is stick some oars together to have a windmill. Believing is as simple as breathing. It is proven by the doing of it. It is justified by the higher and the more enhanced and advanced quality of life you receive from it. Do you have to understand
electricity to plug into it? No, it is proven through the using of it. Using it improves your quality of life. Do you have to prove God? No, you have to apply Him to daily life and through working with Him you prove Him. You delineate Him through His works. At the end of a time you quietly realize there is a God and you know Him. You don’t know everything about Him. You never will or can because God is too big and too loving. But you will understand what is meant by God. You will know the taste of grace. You will never be quite the same as when you were blind and before you could see.

Faith is learned, inspired and perfected in the application of God to life. It is justified by the sense of communion you receive from it, the awareness of redemption, the discovery of a life spent with God. Those who miss knowing God miss so much pleasure they might have had.
As the Shorter Catechism says, knowing God is “to enjoy Him forever.” There are great moments in working with God and seeing Him delineated by His actions. The greatest adventure in the world and
the most satisfying is the discovery of God. A woman once told me no greater feeling existed than having your own child, I said,” Yes, there is a greater experience. It is in discovering God through working with Him as well as through Him.

What does religion or faith in God contribute to us as individuals and society as a whole beyond personal satisfaction.? I have time to deal only with a few of the many. Religion indirectly helps so many.
It gives us a sense of our enduring personal immortality so that our lives are not reduced to brief actions involved in short -sighted conceptions about profit. Believers learn to consider for an eternal tomorrow and not just for immediate wealth from ugly, cheap and short sighted actions
“for self only.” Believers seek something beyond immediate wealth and narcissistic expression of it.

Believers consider others because of God. They fill the need for God. In countries such as ours where there is a “God vacuum” or in a family where there is a “God vacuum” , that is when there is no belief or weak belief in God, there is a “values vacuum.” Where there is a values vacuum, people and families slide into bad values and only for profit actions. The criminal comes out more in people  when there is a values vacuum caused by a “God vacuum” as there is today. Where there is no belief in God to establish values and hold good values, there is more disorder in the family and society. The emphasis slides into freedom from values in the family rather than the Biblical spiritual obligations to value each other. A belief in God helps establish social stability and identity. Belief in God is a buttress of decent fellowship and good citizenship.

This belief in God makes everyone children of God and therefore more “one.” The belief in the creation of earth by God shows that the world while challenging is yet friendly to mankind. Because God created life, we may still have to refine raw emotions, but basically we can trust all emotion as a gift from God. Because the universe has been created by God directly or indirectly, believers must approach all aspects of God’s creation with respect and reverence. Because of belief in God, we are
assured that life must include service to others. Because of the existence of God, we may have faith in life and its ultimate goodness. God is working for our tomorrow. With God our endings are only a
beginning. There is always a fresh chance with God.

Now it is true of course that there has been much ill feeling and hate over religion. This is unfortunate but show me any human need or want that has not been corrupted, misused and at some times perverted.
The conception of God does much good, but that is not to say that any beautiful conception in the hands of selfish people will not be misused. But we should not we forget that the followers of any creed are human are not without mistakes and false values at times.

Nor should we forget that belief in God in the four major religions and many minor faiths has always generated some form of what the poet Dante, called “humanitas.” Religion is a producer of compassion
and sympathy. That is “humanitas.” Thus religions of love continue to shower on the world the blessings of  belief that there is a Universal Spirit struggling for the betterment of the world while religions truly held
continue to generate compassion, charity, caring, brotherhood and even educational programs for the innocent and the ignorant.

So I would proclaim proudly, not suggest, nor merely say, that if we are to create people to be their best, a goal all good parents want, there must be the acknowledgement that mankind has always had a spiritual
dimension that must be developed and taken into account. Humanity has a spiritual thirst that will always be with it and must be slaked. Otherwise mankind will be far, far less than it was meant to be. A
humanity lacking fulfillment of its spiritual dimensions will increasingly be filled with people born human who in growing up achieve sub-humanity. We have more than enough of those today.

Yes, religion must face the fact that faith falsely applied has sometimes enabled villains to pervert supposed teachings of God to bad purposes. Revealed religions must acknowledge their scriptures, however well
intended, have been misused to false purposes by unbalanced if not amoral people selfishly quoting them. Those who know not God nearly always quote scripture.

But be that as it unfortunately may, people are always going to need faith and they will have a religion. It is far more intelligent not to waste everyone’s time denying the existence of God and other elemental
forces in the life of mankind, but to concern ourselves with the character of the religions that are to be. I then suggest to visitors from foreign countries they not waste time telling about those who say there is
no God, but what is being taught in their countries about God. That is of vital importance to the quality of future life on earth. For us of course the Bible is centrifugal.

I maintain denying the existence of God is rather like King Canute trying to hold back the sea by ordering the waves to stop. The waves of the ocean did not stop coming. King Canute must have been something
of a fool to have tried this at all. (Perhaps the king was so exposed as some other head persons to the flattering of courtiers, he had lost his perspective on reality as well as his mortality.) But the king could
have spared himself the effort. Superficial words are no match for an elemental force that has a truth of its own. Nor is the superficial reason of mankind adequate for an “ I AM” who is not obligated to be
understood by the smaller finite minds of humans.

Religions represent an elemental force that can be foolishly denied or more positively used to move the mountains of the future. The well known psychologist, Jung, has words on his grave marker to the effect that the presence of God is wherever you are, whether you recognize it or not even if you do not want it. Since God is ever present, and is never, never going away, why not admit the presence of God in planning for your future and that of your family? God is there. Why not welcome Him as a force in your life? Make a positive decision for God with far reaching consequences. It will help you and your family to be the best persons you can be. The decision will never make you perfect, but you will be far better than you were before it. Accept the reality of God. Accept the immortality He has given you.
Dare to be wise.


Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.