Smart guy, American philosopher, essayist, poet & lecturer, Ralph Waldo Emerson had something important to say about principles:
He is recorded as saying:
“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”
He’s onto it!
Funny how the bible agrees with Mr Emerson eh? A shame that he couldn’t return the favour (Ralph was an early New-Ager and involved with Masonic stuff. As far as I can see he was into “nature-worship” fairly heavily). The Bible has a lot to say about Ralph and others who worship creation and reject or ignore the Creator. It’s not really a good long-term approach to living. It causes life to end rather dramatically actually.
[Pic: Crumbling church bell-tower on the South Coast of Upolu. Don’t judge too much, a Tsunami just went through here a few months prior! Nice photo though, snapped from my driver’s seat as we drove through.]
One of the first things that I recall long-time bible teacher Derek Prince teaching me early in my Christian walk, was to seek principles when reading scripture. If we take little bits of the Bible and avoid principles we can easily drop the ball. If we get the big picture and UNDERSTAND the principles by which things work, we are wiser.
The principles I’ve worked through recently have mostly come from studying the bible, and I’ve thrashed them in my world of life experiences. I’ve lived them; applied and tested them; sometimes fought with them and I can assert to their inherent wisdom. Some of them have come to me through revelation and many have been sitting there in the back of my mind, being used and valued but never stitched into a coherent list until now.
I think we all have ideas and values that match with Bible values at times. It takes guts however to apply them consistently and even more guts to apply them when we know that they are right but don’t FEEL like applying them, or when there is a high price to pay for standing up for them.
But while life is basically simple, it is not always that easy and there is wisdom required in how and when to apply these principles. I define wisdom as the application of principles into any given situation, simply put, understanding things from God’s perspective.
Some of the ideas have been around for yonks, but engaging with Samoa, and then knowing how and when to move forward and when to sit tight and remain quiet, and knowing when to stand and fight – well that’s where the rubber hits the road. And you know the biggest thing about this all? Sure principles are important, but really it is about trust . . . trusting God that He is there to look after us when we step out and do things His way.
Trust is the key to many things in relationship. In relationship to God, it is called FAITH.
While it is perfectly possible for God to miraculously touch us (I was “zapped” as a young man with the recognition that the Bible was not only true but that it was the TRUTH), many people who have no or little faith, must first work these matters through their minds and their intellect. Only once “softened up” and humbled a little can they then connect to the heart and then connect to their spirit.
Proving your point – arguing a principle or case of logic – especially with truth seekers is very effective. People ALWAYS come to a relationship with Christ through an experience but for many the logic of Christianity can be very compelling, causing us to question our pre-conceptions, to ask questions of a spiritual nature, and to become open to accepting the love of Christ.
So in asking the question “Is there a God?” I come up with a few responses.
Yes, no, maybe, I don’t know, I don’t care.
Assuming that we WANT to address the issue and work it out, for the moment let’s just make is a binary question requiring an answer: YES or NO.
Answering NO obviously requires some form of justification. On what basis does one say, NO?
Does one know that for a fact or are you/they just hoping or guessing? Did that understanding come by revelation or logic or hope or guesswork? In most of my experience the typical justification I have seen for answering NO, is usually an attack on Christianity, or one of the key components of a mono-theistic belief system. That process is intellectually bankrupt as proving that something doesn’t exist by attacking others’ opinions, values or understanding doesn’t and can never validate one’s own position. Standing in a puddle telling a mate who is also in the puddle that “Haha! You are wet!” doesn’t make you dry!
If, for whatever reason, one has the opinion that there is NO God, this effectively means that you have made yourself to be the source of your own knowledge, truth and wisdom. If you do not look to an outside source for divining reality and truth, it is inevitable that your pride will require you then to defend against anyone who claims otherwise – usually Bible-bangers.
I first experienced this free-independent-thinking, anti-biblical value-system in my early twenties when a counsellor at Centrepoint Commune in Auckland, encouraged me to set myself free from previous value systems and “give myself permission” to experience sin. Temptation at its worst! I chose not to and left within hours of that event before I started to determine my own values contrary to what I knew to be the truth – the Biblical absolutes. Adultery was simply not going to be on my agenda, even if Centrepoint was basically a sex-commune and free-and-easy was their lifestyle!
The temptation however was very clearly motivated to rip me away from the principles and values that I knew were biblical absolutes. It cost me my marraige, but I passed the test by escaping the clutches of a group of highly intelligent people committed to creating a powerful environment that allowed them the “space” to determine their own rules for living.
It’s an easy stepping stone to claim that there is no God, when we assume the right to ultimately determine truth, the possibility of universal, absolute, external truth automatically becomes relative truth. A God who determines values contrary to our own desires (like the Christian God) is hardly a welcome thought to any of us who desire to conduct life as we please, one that’s often free of the key biblical principles too.
The problem then for people who say that there is no God, is that if there is one, and if He is a just and loving God who set guidelines, rules, principles and consequences for his creation, then those that have stuck their finger up at Him are in deep
sh*t doo-doo! If there is no God as just described, then the worst that has happened to the deluded is that they’ve made a fool of themselves running around loving others and doing what we think that the Master asked of us.
Ummmmmmm – BIG DEAL!
The challenge for those not yet hardened enough that they ARE prepared to accept that there may be a God, is then to explore, learn, understand and come to know Him. I’ve certainly found the answer to understanding most things about life in the Bible. I’ve also found that in outworking the principles contained within it has been an excellent foundation to establishing a relationship with Christ, specifically Christ on the Cross, a remarkable place that I’ve found to be the ultimate convergence of truth and love.
But that, my friends, might be another story for another day!
Nice chatting with you again, and thanks for reading about our fourteen principles:
- Barter – exchange – collaborative commerce – whatever you want to call it, the principle we are working with is that of exchanging and sharing the assets of two parties, for the benefit of both.
- It’s not about money. It’s about people; sharing a vision and building relationships.
- Use what we have in our hands (exercising faith), as instructed to do (obedience).
- We wish to use only the best available to us.
- Our Take Nothing Home policy means that we eliminate excessive personal gain.
- It is more blessed to give than to receive.
- We encourage a Cross-Cultural Partnership, blending the best of two cultures.
- We aim for Financial Equivalence whereby we attempt to level the playing field financially.
- We offer strong leadership through a clear vision.
- Our values are based on the Judeo-Christian value system.
- We aim to work smarter, not harder.
- We should empower others.
- Do the right thing, work hard and have faith!
- Walk the land.
Here is a single printable PDF including all 14 PRINCLIPLES. principles.pdf (611k)