Christian Existentialism

This topic is one that has been on my mind for a while to talk about. This is because I don’t believe one can be a true Christian without touching on its existential aspect. In fact, the very fundamental reason for being in any religion is because of the view of existentialism it subscribes to. To begin with, what is existentialism?

Existentialism is quite complex to define, but essentially it deals with the concept of existence, the question of freewill, self-identity, and purpose. Now let me tell you the Christian view on existentialism:

For a start, we believe that man has freewill, this freewill is gift from God. This freewill means that we have a choice to do whatever we want to do– which involves doing good or evil. We Christians don’t believe good and evil are relative, to us, they are complete absolutes. We believe good and evil are determined by God, but not in the way you think we believe it. I must also add that they are many Christians who do not know this themselves. Many people, including most Christians believe that good and evil are essentially what God says they are. I’m here to break that misconception. Good is what God is. You’ll see it many times in the Bible that God is good. Yes, because that’s His nature. In Genesis 1:27, the Bible says that God created us in His image and likeness. Therefore, God created us to be good– just as He is. And since we have this nature of God in us, it then becomes natural for us to know for ourselves what is wrong and what is right. Thus, according to Christian belief, good is walking in the nature of God and bad is walking out of the nature of God.

One may ask, “If God knew we were going to do what was wrong, why did He give us freewill?”. I won’t deny that it is a very good question. But we must remember that God was not creating robots. He was creating beings like Him. Beings that will be able to love Him. There is no love without freewill, and since God is love (1 John 4:8), He gave us freewill, just as He has freewill. In summary, the Christian belief is this: Good means it is in line with the nature of God, and bad means it is not. Good and evil even goes deeper than that. Good and evil according to the Christian belief are not only actions, but also involve thoughts and intentions. In fact, the thoughts and intentions are the most crucial parts because that is where the actions even spring from. For instance, Jesus made the statement that anyone who looks at someone lustfully has already in their hearts committed fornication with that person (Matthew 5:28). To God, simply hating your brother is like murder (1 John 3:15) and disobedience is like witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23), and placing anything in higher priority to Him is idolatry (James 4). It is true that God gave us commandments, and Jesus made us understand that these commandments given by God are summarized in love, which incidentally is God’s nature (…see?). Besides there was this king in the Bible who obeyed the law and the commandments to the letter, but God was far from pleased with him because he didn’t do it out of love! Good and evil are thus fundamentally the state of a person’s heart and in judgement, God is going to look at that more than what we did. Therefore if we donated millions of dollars to charity just to feel good about ourselves, we will receive no reward for it. I will not want to touch too much on good and evil. I believe I must dedicate a whole post for that. I hope God will give me the grace to.

Also fundamental to the Christian belief is that anything done and not done for God is something done in vain. It is said in the Bible that everything must be done to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31 & Colossians 3:17). It is necessary that we know this because we don’t believe we came into this earth by mere coincidence! We believe God brought us here for a purpose, He had a plan for us before the beginning of time! In the Bible, it is said that He even wrote volumes of books about us before we came to this earth (Psalm 139:16). The Bible says that in the day of judgement, several books are going to be opened. We believe there are three of such books; The Book of Life (showing whether you have been saved), the book God wrote about you before you came to this earth, and the book containing the life you spent on this earth. As Christians, we believe that our true purpose is found in God (Colossians 3), and outside of that life is meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1). As Christians we believe there are two kinds of life. It is beautifully put in Greek as Zoe and Bios. Zoe means the life of God and bios means the life of a biological creature. The life of God came through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and the bios comes when we are born. Ecclesiastes 1 was talking about the bios and Colossians 3 was talking about the Zoe. Essentially, we will only find true fulfillment and blessing in doing the will of God (Matthew 6:33). The good thing is that we have the grace of God and we also have the Holy Spirit, who will relate with us personally, teach us everything we need to know and help us in everything we need to do. (This is actually a real thing. Seen it happen in my own life.)

 

Then we come to self-identity. We as Christians don’t believe in this whole philosophy of “finding yourself”. We believe that everything we need to know about ourselves has already been put in the Word of God. We believe that self-identification is one of the most dangerous things wan can do to himself or herself. In “finding ourselves” or “self-identification”, we are tearing ourselves apart from what God has said about us. According to the Christian belief, “finding yourself” is a form of pride. (oh yeah, digging into the Bible will make you understand that pride is completely different from what we think it is). Pride is essentially putting yourself first before God– in anything that you do. The Bible, instead of finding ourselves rather says we should seek God wholeheartedly. In doing that is when we realize who we truly are. The Bible gives us stern admonishes like Proverbs 3:5 and Proverbs 14:12.

This is the Christian Existentialism. We were brought here on earth to fulfill destiny; God’s will for our lives. Searching the world or ourselves will not give us a hint of who we are, but rather spending time with God will. To my fellow Christians out there, I hope you have been enlightened. To my fellow non-Christians out there, I hope this has been an interesting insight into our belief system.

This post is also to call to attention something I find very saddening. This something is that most Christians I have met do not know this. The Christian worldview actually goes far deeper than this. It would take a whole big book to delve into the intricacies, mysteries and fallacies surrounding Christianity. I hope by the grace of God, I will be able to accomplish that feat.

 

Bless y’all!

 

 

 

 

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Failed Diving

Okay, so apparently, there’s this cognitive bias called the dunning-kruger effect, where you think something seems easier than it actually is. That was exactly what I was experiencing when I was heading out to sea.

I wanted to swim from Last Hour Beach to African Beach, that’s about 1.69km… 1.69km!! It didn’t cross me initially until I finally got there. Secondly, the waves stretched farther than I initially imagined. I estimate it stretched about 600 – 700 metres into the sea. Apart from that the water current was exactly opposite the direction of the waves so the more I entered the sea, the more the current pushed me in. This meant that even though it would be easy for me to go 600 – 700 metres into the water, it would be much more difficult for me to come back and I might even drown in the effort back to shore.

You think that stopped Robert?

Of course not.

I went into the water swam till my feet could no longer feel the ground and I was deep in  the water. Even with that, I wasn’t any where near even halfway where the waves began. Ibrahim, my bud bud, was on the look out for me together with the lifeguard and cautioned me to come back to shore before the tides swept me into the sea and it would be my end.

I learned a lot today, actually– especially concerning why people die when swimming at the beach. For those who don’t know how to swim, it’s quite obvious. The tides sweep them away and they have no way of recovering themselves. For those who know how to swim there are several scenarios than can cause them to die. First is if they hit their heads against a rock inside the water. Second is if they can’t hold their breath for long and a huge wave hits them, they’d drown because they can’t make it up in time when the waves have settled. And the third is when the tides sweep them out to sea and in their attempt to swim back to shore, they get tired, can’t continue anymore and then drown.

I’m going to continue tomorrow though. Hopefully, the current would be taking a different direction and the waves would have come a bit closer to shore, with the tides calmer than before. Tomorrow, the aim is to manage to get behind the waves. If I do that then I can start my search for some reefs.

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Fire Camp.

So, I went back to school for a 6-day camp and that has been one of the most life-changing events in my life. It was in those 6 days that I began to understand God more than any moment in my entire life. I thank God for showing me so much mercy as to go for the camp and for delivering me from certain notions I had about Christianity that weren’t true. Here are some of the lessons I learned:

Your dream life is very important:

God wants every way possible to speak to us and one of the ways He speaks to us is through our dreams. At night, when we are asleep, our minds are at their most vulnerable. It is a great opportunity for God to speak to us (as well as the devil to deceive us). God usually speaks to us in our dreams allegorically, using elements we are very familiar with to speak to us. Allow me to give you an example and a testimony concerning this dreaming factor. Last night I had a dream and in the dream, I was struggling to use my laptop. I turned the laptop and opened it up to try to see what it was, and I noticed it was a problem from the hard drive. The computer wasn’t reading the right information from the hard-drive so it was very difficult for me to use the PC. Praise God that while I was sleeping, I heard a voice (it was the Holy Spirit) interpret the dream for me.
Apparently, the computer was ME and who I thought to be myself was GOD. The hard-drive being faulty and reading the wrong instructions was talking about the fact that I wasn’t studying the Word so I was having some wrong mindsets and false notions which weren’t allowing God to use me.
I wouldn’t have known this at all if I didn’t know that God speaks to us in our dreams in a very special and personalized manner. D’accord, that sometimes it may be explicit, but most of the times they are allegorical. As the Woman of God, Auntie Derby said, “dreams are parables”. I remember how, through the Spirit, she would interpret our dreams and someone’s dream about plantain chips was actually to reveal something about the Kingdom of God. Interesting isn’t it? There are so many times God has spoken to us through our dreams that we do not realize.
So in dreams, we usually see people; some we are familiar with, and some we aren’t familiar with. The people we see in dreams usually represent people far different from who they are in reality.  I remember several people dreaming and seeing Auntie Derby in their dreams. Apparently, in the dream, Auntie Derby didn’t represent Auntie Derby but represented God or even the devil. God uses people we trust and hold in high esteem to speak to us in dreams. Someone had a dream, where he thought it was Auntie Derby speaking to him but it was actually the devil trying to deceive him. The devil is fine to cause deceit and mischief once he can hide behind people to do that. We can know if it is God or the devil speaking to us when we are firmly grounded in the Word of God. We should never take any dream for granted and we should have something to document our dreams in because they are very important. Dreams were potent tools used in the Bible. Auntie Derby said she had dreams from 8 years ago which she didn’t understand until recently. From that I realized the need to document the dreams. Oh and also, there’s no static formula for interpreting dreams– It takes the Spirit to do that.

 

Righteousness:

God has a plan and purpose for each and everything He created. In that light, God has a special plan and purpose for you. In conjunction with this special plan and purpose He gave us, He gave us something called free will. Free will allows us to decide whatever we want to do with our lives. God gave us freewill as a gift and it is a very lovely gift. As C.S Lewis said in his book, Mere Christianity, 

“He gave them (us) free will because
a world of mere automata could never love and therefore never know infinite
happiness.”

But giving us free will also meant that we could decide whether or not to serve God and whether or not we would follow His plan for us. And this is where sin comes into the picture. Sin means “missing the mark”, and thus anything that we do that does not fall into what God wants us to do or created us the way we should be. But that is not the whole picture. In the New Testament, sin is not only what is done, but what is conceived in the heart. Such that if a man looks at a woman with lust it is considered adultery (Matthew 5:27-28) and if a person hates his brother it is considered murder (1 John 3:15). Also, sin means outright disobedience. If God tells you to let’s say, pray for this or that person to get healed and you don’t do it, you’ve disobeyed and thus sinned.
The interesting thing is that the gifts of God can still operate in you even when you are in error. There are so many people healing the sick, touching lives, delivering people from demons with the genuine power of God but because they are not doing so according to God’s instructions, they are being sinful. That is why Jesus would say Get away, you workers of iniquity, I don’t know you. (Matthew 7:23). They are indeed working iniquity because they didn’t obey God but rather were doing the things that seemed right in their hearts that they thought God would be proud of.
Righteousness is an interesting topic because it is not something that we can use our human moral standards to measure. As Auntie Derby pointed out, if Jesus was to be in our present day, a lot of us would have called him a false prophet because of some of the things he did. Besides, how can someone said to be very humble, speak with authority saying he is the son of God? How can he say he will destroy a temple and in 3 days rebuild it? A temple that had taken so many years to build? Why would a righteous man be defending his disciples plucking grain during Sabbath, which was clearly wrong according to the law? (Mark 2:23-27). This is to say that God’s standards for what righteousness is is clearly not what we, using our moral ideals, can comprehend. Graciously for us, God has given us grace to enable us walk according to His will. He has also given us the Word, which is to transform us through the way we think so that we can understand His will and purpose for us (Romans 12:2).

 

Mercy:

It is very easy to dismiss that mercy simply means forgiveness but mercy goes way beyond that. God’s mercies are not only available for forgiveness but also to exempt us from the consequences of the sins we commit. When we understand mercy, we begin to see how gracious God has been to us. Imagine we paid the price for every single wrong we did. How would our lives be?
Mercy has been made available not only to be exempted from the consequences of our unrighteousness but also to set us back on the path of God’s righteousness. Mercy also goes before us to make things better for us. For instance, it was by God’s mercies I made it to the fire camp and I learnt what I learnt.

 

Beyond the physical:

 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.” — Ephesians 6:12

Once the devil can hide behind humans to cause harm and do mischief, his mission is complete. We are quick to judge people when they are rude and wicked to us; to those who hurt us and abuse us. We fail to realise that these people are usually influenced by forces that cause them to do what they do. And these forces gain influence through sin. When people sin, we may be tempted to take things at phase value but the sins create loopholes for the devil to cause afflictions and trouble’s in people’s lives. There are so many people that have diseases and afflictions not only because of their sins but also because of the sins their parents or forefathers committed.
A lot of the world’s social issues like terrorism, human rights abuse, rape culture, epidemics and others are all products of the works of the forces of darkness and as Christians, it is our duty to wage war against these forces, to destroy the works of these forces.

One very essential thing I learned was about pride. I used to thing pride meant simply seeing yourself better than everyone else, but that was just one piece of the large puzzle. Pride constitutes so many things including self-ambition, self-righteousness and the mere sense of comparing yourself to others. Pride is anti-God, because it acknowledges the self without giving credit to God. There are so many things that constitute pride but I will leave that for another post.

To be very honest, all that I have said is but a very tiny piece of everything that I learned during the camp. Ultimately, everything we learned was pushing towards the point that God desires a deep and personal relationship with us and the foundation for that is holiness and righteousness, rooted in a firm knowledge of the Word and a deep love for God. I will never in my life forget the experience I had with the Holy Spirit during this meeting. It has indeed turned my life around and I’m looking forward to next year’s Fire Camp.

Free Diving.

I freaking miss home. I’ve been in this place since the 7th of January, and I’m already tired. I miss Takoradi. I miss the breeze and the sounds from the roaring sea. Apart from missing home, I wanted to try something new– something adventurously new– free-diving.

I promise I remember when I was a kid I saw a coral reef back home at the harbour. I don’t remember exactly which part of the harbour I saw it but I remember vividly. So, I have decided to go free-diving at the beach near my house to see if I can find any reefs beneath. Already I’m hearing a coral reef has been discovered near the border between Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire.

I’ve already bought snorkels and googles. I need flippers and soon I’ll save up enough money to get a waterproof swimsuit. I also have to start working on my breathing exercises as well and I need to convince someone to come on this adventure with me.

Definitely not my little brother. No way. He’s the only brother I’ve got and I’m not risking him for anything. Apparently too, there’s a scuba diving lodge near Takoradi called Kedas Lodge. I guess that would be my next vacation destination…

The Truth 

You can have eyes and still be blind

You can have ears and still be deaf

You can have speech and still be silent

Because the fact that you have senses doesn’t mean you have sense

And the fact that you have a life does not mean you are truly alive.

In this world, the truth is beheld as paradox and noxious axioms, destined to despair rather than to purge

Indeed I tell you, 

There is knowledge that can make one ignorant

And philosophy that can turn one foolish

Thus the truth is neither words nor philosophy. It is neither conduct nor reason

The truth is Spirit, the truth is Life, the truth is Light

The truth is a personality

The truth has power and thus manifests itself in everything in creation 

The truth can manifest in all things, yet is not the manifestation itself. 

The truth is Jesus

And when we get to know Jesus

We get to know the truth 

Another mind-wandering episode

The face of reality keeps shifting, forming new tessaracts each passing day. The days sway by, repeating themselves by 24 hours, yet advancing in years. People keep walking. The trains keep moving. The birds keep flying. The sun keeps shining. Life keeps moving on.

It reaches the point where when I’m struck down, my quiescence turns into declination because while everything is prodding forward, I remain in a fixed, static position. The art of doing nothing unravels itself in my eyes in the form of laziness. I term it as an art because art requires observation, be it listening, watching, feeling, smelling or tasting. Art requires a certain sense of stillness needed to appreciate and savour an ongoing activity. Sometimes, to appreciate art, one must be active. But in a world where [almost] everything is in constant, tentative motion, one must be still.

I hope that explains why I can be lazy sometimes. Pleasure definitely dwells in my effort[lessness] to remain inactive, however I can draw insights from the world when I put myself in an inertial frame of reference and observe an ongoing activity without being affected by the activity itself.

Maybe what I’m starting to describe is isolation. Maybe I’m not lazy, because I’m putting in some mental effort to arrange all the patterns I see around me into something that makes meaning to me. I might be also putting in some energy to make sure that my current state stays invariable to the perpetual and erratic configurations and re-configurations the world has resolved to consistently model itself into.

Maybe it might be important to be isolated sometimes. That recluse, retrospective gaze at everything fosters a certain serenity that flexes my mind and makes me grateful for the beautiful, and horrible things I experience

Maybe, I should quit the maybes and start being assertive about certain ideas I choose to accommodate, lest I wander around in uncertainty. On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t stop saying maybes because maybes are transitional words that push me to consider things from various possible (and impossible) perspectives.

To conclude, the important thing about this whole writing is to let my mind roam a bit, while being detached to the stream of thoughts it meanders around.

Love

Love.

Let’s talk about love.

No, let’s talk about ideas.

Yes, ideas.

Why?

Because there’s a thin line between ideas and love. We as human beings are completely enamored by ideas. We fall for them and we make love to them. We let them swivel their charm all over us. We kiss them and caress them. Indeed, ideas have proven to be the greatest seducers in the world. Because they are so flexible, we can bend them into different positions and orientations that align with our pleasure pressure points. And then, finally we let go and let them take us for an interesting journey. I have been caught by this trap before, and I am here to help you break free from yours.

For sometime now, I have been feeling slightly empty. It’s a feeling I cannot perfectly describe. What I can clearly identify, however, is that it’s an unresolved catharsis– a yearning of intimacy. You could say that I wish I had a girlfriend. That would be too simple though. What I really wish, is that I have that one person by my side who will deeply appreciate me for who I am, would be a great person, would care for me and would be willing to go through thick and thin for and with me. Is that too much to ask?

To begin with that question is a very wrong move. The real question is, do I want a wonderful person in my life, or I’m consumed by the idea of having a wonderful person in my life? Why do I want such a person in my life? Is it because if the way she’s going to make me feel? If it is, then I’m headed for a serious trap.

The thing about ideas is that they are so greatly drenched with emotion. Take for instance a girl who is all over a celebrity. Would she be genuinely in love with the celebrity? Of course not. Heck she doesn’t even know him or her. It is because the girl has been fooled to believe that celebrities are a larger-than-life kind of people. She has been fooled by the notion that celebrities are the climax of happiness, wealth and fulfillment.

To know we are genuinely in love with someone, and not just the idea is to know the person whom we are in love with. To be cognizant of the fact that we are not enamored by a poeticized version of them but by their true selves.