14th April 2018

The Living God

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10 (NIV)

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the philosophy of Frederick Nietzsche (1844-1900) has had great intellectual and political influence around the world. Perhaps his most famous phrase was “God is dead.” In his book The Gay Science, Nietzsche put these words into the mouth of a madman who also said “and we have killed him.” Nietzsche, who was already an atheist when he wrote these words, did not set out to prove God was dead or non-existent but he intended the phrase to be a metaphor for the spiritual condition of many in Europe. He perceived that although they may not realise it, many were living their lives as if God were dead. He suggested that faith in science was replacing faith in God and that Western culture had ceased to find belief in God plausible; human beings had killed him with their scientific revolution. Nietzsche set out to explore the consequences of such a view. He concluded that it would result in the collapse of Christian morality and values, and that science, since it was value neutral, could not provide an alternative value framework to Christianity. He was afraid that Europe would descend into nihilism (life is meaningless), and set out to develop an alternative world view to Christianity.

Nietzsche, like Karl Marx (who believed religion was the opium of the people), took a negative view of Christianity. Nietzsche believed that Christians devalue this life in favour of the beyond; that Christianity has a life denying ethic.

But is this true? In both the Old and New testaments God is described as the living God; a God who is both the source and upholder of life. As the opening scripture states, a relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ is intended to be a life-affirming experience. We are not called simply to “tread water” in this life whilst waiting for the beyond. Christians are encouraged to develop their physical and spiritual talents and abilities in this life, and make a positive contribution to society as well as being given the assurance of eternal life. This life includes experiencing some of the good things of creation as best we can in a world full of troubles and problems.

When the Bible says “you shall know the truth” (John 8:32), the Greek word for truth could equally be translated ‘reality’; to know the truth is to know reality.

The gospel message is about, and a wakeup call to, reality. Real life is a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ and includes living in the light, truth, freedom and love of God as opposed to living in the darkness, confusion and slavery of this world with its alternative world views.

Prayer
Father, we thank you that you are the giver and sustainer of life. Help us to serve you and humanity in the best way we can.
Amen

Study by Eddie Marsh

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About the Author:
Eddie Marsh attends Grace Communion International in Sheffield.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion, Sheffield
Please email for Meeting Place

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Email: sheffield@gracecom.org.uk