Updated: Jan 31
Many people have grown up in Church. Many more have heard the story of Jesus coming to earth as a baby, amazing the Rabbi's as a child, performing miracles as a man, and finally dying on a cross some 2,000 years ago. We have seen Him on the flannelgraph in Sunday school and we have seen Him in exquisite paintings and on stained glass windows.
But somewhere between the Christmas programs and the Easter services, we missed God.
We know Him as "the man upstairs," "the good Lord" and "the higher power" - making God about as impersonal as a brick wall.
We know Him as the Healer but we wrestle with that when cancer comes. We know Him as the Mender but we cast a confused look to heaven when things break.
We know Him as the Heavenly Father and as the Bridegroom but those titles don't mean much to those scarred by earthly relationships.
We know Him as the Lawgiver who made the rules, and the Judge waiting to deliver a guilty verdict if the laws are not followed.
We know Him as Love but it's a potluck-style, "it-is-what-you-make-it" kind of love that is void of any real substance.
We know Him as many things and as nothing. He's kept in the sanctuary and bound in the steeple and we live like we either have to float through life with some abstract view of grace or we have to qualify for His approval, earn His favor; and gain whatever blessings He gives.
When all is stripped away and God is all that we have, do we even know Who we have? It doesn't appear that we do.
When we view God as a Judge, we work hard to do good things to avoid His wrath. When we view Him as a distant deity up in the sky, we sink into loneliness and isolation. When we view Him as one side of the proverbial coin, we live a one-sided Christianity that warps our faith and drowns us in confusion, disillusionment and bitterness. Church cliches are empty. Well-meaning spiritual nudges feel more like passive aggressive jabs. And none of those things give us any real inclination as to who God really is which causes our hearts to ache for something to hold on to and our souls to cry, "WHO IS THIS GOD?"
Friend, I don't have Him figured out and, truthfully, if I did He wouldn't be a God worth serving. I don't understand the ins and outs of the Godhead but I do know this: He wants us to know Him.
Even when we don't understand the why's and the how's, He wants us to be seekers of the Truth. Even when we struggle to reconcile His omnipotence with His goodness, He wants us to search for Him, to ask from Him, to knock and knock and knock some more until the doors of Heaven burst open.
While we scramble around trying to figure out if He is going to be mad if we wear pants instead of dresses or if He is going to slap a scarlet A to our chest if we kiss before marriage, He is sitting on the throne with more grace than we have check lists. While we are scared that we will get the cold shoulder if we mess up or disappoint a God of Holiness when we can't measure up, He breathes in the fragrance of Calvary's atonement and looks upon us with joy.
We would be more inclined to live in peace if we better knew the Prince of Peace. We would be more apt to be quieted by His love if we understood that we will never drain the resources of His love or of His goodness. No, I don't have Him figured out, but this God is not limited to art, to books, to traditions or to perceptions. This God spread His arms out for me at Calvary, spreads His arms over me in the storm, and spreads His arms open for me to fall into when I am weak. This God looks upon me as one beloved, as one cherished and as one He eagerly and fiercely defends. I can exhaust myself living as though I worship a detached Master or I could believe that He is truly Emmanuel, God with us; God with me. He is not who I once thought He was and I praise Him for that.
If you are frustrated with vague snapshots of an invisible God, just know that contained in the mystery of Jesus, there is boundless love and matchless joy waiting for those who keep crying, "Show me who you are!" We won't understand much of anything this side of heaven, but we can echo the disciple, Peter, and say, "Lord, to whom shall we go?" (John 6:68)
Truly, there is none else.
For more on this topic, study:
Psalm 119:10; Proverbs 8:17; Isaiah 44:6;
Jeremiah 29:13; Jeremiah 31:3; Lamentations 3:22;
Hosea 6:3; Matthew 11:29; John 14:6;
John 14:26; Romans 5:8; Philippians 3:10;
Hebrews 4:16; 1 John 4:19; Revelation 1:8