Sunday, April 10, 2011


As I pondered last night, I remembered a Sunday School teacher I had in high school more than fifty years ago. Rayford Hall and his wife had taught teenagers in that church for decades. They each had a gift for bringing The Word into our everyday lives.

Once we studied the nature of God. Rayford taught us that God is lawful, orderly, and rational.

He is lawful in that there is a pattern to His Law. To every action, there is a consequence. Those consequences form a pattern that is concise even when the timing of the consequence to the action is not immediate. A ball tossed into the air will return to the ground as gravity impacts it. A sin will blot the fellowship we have with God. We can change the time it takes the ball to hit the ground by how high and hard we throw it. By the blood of Christ and His Sacrifice for us, we can change the length of time a sin inhibits our fellowship with God by how long it takes us to recognize, confess and repent of it. Nevertheless, the consequence is there and He paid the price. That's true in nature as well as in our fellowship with God.

The orderliness of God can be seen in His Creation. The basic pattern of every part of His Creation remains unchanged across the centuries unless man imposes his will on the creation. The patterns allow us to identify what "family" (species) a plant, animal, or mineral belongs to. The pattern of daisy flowers, for example, is different from the pattern of tulips. Even their leaves, stems, bulbs or roots form a pattern that is distinguishable from others.

God is rational in that He is logical, not capricious. For example, look at the Ten Commandments. They start with "Thou shalt have no other gods before me". God created us with a "God-sized hole" in each of us that only fellowship with Him can fill. The Commandments then progress to the prohibition against worshipping graven images. Interestingly, even pagans who have never heard of Christ have a "God-sized hole" which they try to fill....with images they produce. God then progresses to telling us ways in which we can worship Him, starting with setting aside a particular day (the Sabbath).
From there, He went on to behaviors that affect our relationships with each other.

It is important to recognize the difference between patterns and habits. Patterns are the distinguishing features within habits. Even good habits can have poorly designed patterns. For example, offering the traditional "Good Morning" greeting to someone can become a poor habit if the distinguishing feature is not real concern for them. Attending church regularly without the distinguishing feature of fellowship with God during the week can become corrupted. Obedience to parents to escape punishment does not have the distinguishing feature of respect for authority.

Patterns in our schedules and the activities in those schedules reflect our priorities. They mark us as either belonging to Christ or not. They also reduce our uncertainty in perilous times. I appreciate the time and effort that Rayford and his wife invested in teaching us to examine the patterns of our lives.

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