It’s understandable if this week’s blog title seems somewhat arrogant. I’m certainly not old enough to make such a claim based on my experience. Even if I were a centenarian, I still wouldn’t have lived long enough to say I fully understand how life works. However, the challenge is that regardless of what we know about life, we’ll all face situations that require us to make choices. Consciously or unconsciously, those decisions are influenced by our understanding of life. That presents a problem. How do we know we are making the best possible decision if we aren’t sure we have all the facts? What guarantees do we have that those choices will lead to desirable outcomes?
I now realise that my worldview heavily influences my choices, and those choices ultimately determine the quality of my life. Nevertheless, there’s another challenge we need to navigate. Our time on earth is finite, so we don’t have an indefinite amount of time to make mistakes and learn. Moreover, we often don’t find out about our mistakes until it’s too late to do anything meaningful about them. So, most of us would rather avoid making those mistakes in the first place. I believe that one of the reasons God gave us the Scriptures was to help us navigate this predicament. He gives guarantees about life, which is something we all crave. He also anchors those guarantees on His integrity so that we can apply them with the assurance that the only way they won’t work is if He doesn’t exist [Psalm 138:2, Isaiah 55:11].
I’m aware that many people disagree with the Bible’s assertion about how life works. Some agree with certain aspects but reject others. Consequently, they don’t embrace the whole counsel of God [Psalm 73:24, Acts 20:27]. Even if I could, I wouldn’t compel them to agree with it. God doesn’t either. He gives instructions and consequences and allows us to choose [Deuteronomy 30:15-20]. So, how does life work? It starts with the God revealed in the Bible. The first four words in the Bible encapsulate the foundational context for life. Eliminate that context, and life ultimately is meaningless. A further context for framing how life works is the realisation that what we see isn’t all there is [Hebrews 11:3]. There’s an unseen (not unreal) reality superior to what’s visible to us.
According to the Bible, we’re all born into the middle of a cosmic battle between spiritual powers greater than us [Revelation 12:7-9]. It’s a battle that predates us and fundamentally impacts our immediate and future destinies. We’re free to choose which side we join, but we can’t stay neutral [James 4:4]. As with most significant decisions, our choice carries consequences because our allegiance with one side implies enmity with the other side. For most of my life, I thought these spiritual powers were somewhat equal and opposite, but that’s unbiblical. Satan isn’t equal and opposite to God. As with humans, he’s a creature created by God. As Creator, all power belongs to God [Psalm 62:11], so He’s sovereign over all creation, including Satan.
As the Sovereign of the universe [Hebrews 1:2-3], God sets the rules and defines the principles, systems, structures and parameters of operation for His creatures, including Satan. Those rules essentially govern how life truly works, and God supervises their administration with righteousness and justice [Psalm 89:14]. They govern the natural (e.g. when a seed sprouts after it’s buried in the soil [Genesis 8:22]) and the supernatural (e.g. there’s no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood [Hebrews 9:22]) realms of creation. They also work irrespective of the righteousness of the individual engaging them [Matthew 5:45]. Consequently, anyone who masters and applies these principles with understanding will possess an advantage in life. Conversely, a person ignorant of God’s ways or someone who trivialises them will pay [Psalm 82:5-7, Hosea 4:6].
I’m grateful that there’s definiteness to how life works. Life isn’t a meaningless coincidence of chance. As Blaise Pascal puts it, God gives us the dignity of causation; our choices matter. However, it’s up to us to make the right ones. If we’re to thrive in life, it will be dependent on what we know about how life truly works. Our spiritual ancestors understood this principle. As such, Scripture is replete with occasions where these wise sages asked God to teach them His ways. They understood that knowing God was rooted in comprehending His ways, and by so doing, they’d find favour in His sight [Exodus 33:13]. Finding favour with God provokes a catch-all blessing [Genesis 24:1].
I’ll end with two Bible verses which deserve some introspection; the first is from a rich, wise King [Ecclesiastes 2:1-11]: “When all has been heard, the end of the matter is: fear God [worship Him with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is almighty God] and keep His commandments, for this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, every hidden and secret thing, whether it is good or evil” [Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 AMP]. The second, written by an unknown sage, says: “Through [skilful and godly] wisdom a house [a life, a home, a family] is built, and by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation]. And by knowledge, its rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. A wise man is strong, and a man of knowledge strengthens his power”[Proverbs 24:3-5 AMP].
What assumptions, consciously or unconsciously, are you making about how life works? Are you willing to stake your life on those assumptions? Remember, time is finite. It’s therefore paramount that how you think life works is how it truly works because the ramifications of being mistaken have immediate and eternal consequences.