My An Arkie's Faith column from the February 17, 2016 issue of The Mena Star.
I spent my first two years of high school at a small private school in Boulder, Colorado. I still remember the teachers there and the impact they made on my life. There was Principal Stafford who drove a Volkswagen Bus. Ms. Shirley Nightingale was fresh out of college and we boys enjoyed embarrassing her. I think we were just a bit disappointed when she became Mrs. Cole. Mrs. Carlisle was the band director and taught me to play the trumpet. She is still teaching music at the same school.
My most unforgettable teacher was Elder Siebenlist. He was older and had spent his life as an educator. He had been the principal of several high schools both public and private. He was the principal of the Solusi Training School in what is now Zimbabwe, Africa from 1946- 1954. In 1994 the Solusi school became a university, the first private university in Zimbabwe. I loved hearing Elder Siebenlist tell stories about his time in Africa. When he told stories about encounters with lions and traveling in Africa I was spellbound. I had grown up reading books and stories about missionaries and now I had a teacher who was a real life missionary.
When I started high school my hardest class was algebra. My grade school math classes had not given me even the basics of algebra. I was confused and did very poorly for the first quarter. But then all of a sudden it seemed to make sense. There were rules and if you followed the rules you could get the right answer even if you didn’t understand why. One of the first rules of algebra that I learned was the rule of symmetry: If a = b, then b = a.
I was reminded of this rule recently while listening to a sermon by my pastor. He asked us to do an exercise that made an impact on me. It is a short easy exercise. I would like to share it with you.
The Bible calls John, “the disciple that Jesus loved”. Jesus had a best friend. The best friend of Jesus wrote in 1 John 4:7,8 (NCV) “Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God’s child and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love”. From this statement we can safely deduce that the following equation is true: God = Love.
Remember that in algebra we have the rule of symmetry: If a = b, then b = a. So if God = Love, then Love = God.
In the exercise my pastor had us turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 13 and read verses 4-7 (NLT). "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."
Now since Love = God, we were to replace love in the passage with God. It read like this. God is patient and kind. God is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. He does not demand His own way. He is not irritable, and He keeps no record of being wronged. God does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. God never gives up; He never loses faith, He is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
What a beautiful picture of God. We can say that God is love, but what does that mean? Through this use of an algebraic axiom we can get a clearer understanding of God. We can see that many of the ways that men have portrayed God simply don’t measure up to the picture of God shown by this simple exercise.
Gentle Reader, I hope that your life will be blessed by this concept of God. Maybe you haven't looked at God this way before. Remember that God is patient and kind. God is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. He does not demand His own way. He is not irritable, and He keeps no record of being wronged. God does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. God never gives up; He never loses faith, He is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.