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From the Front Porch: A God of my own Choosing

August 28, 2011 3 comments

Apostle Paul. Byzantine mosaic at the cathedra...

Image via Wikipedia

Surrendering our will to God’s sovereignty is perhaps, the hardest thing to do for people of faith. Indeed, there are times when I want to do my thing, reach for the stars, “go for the gusto” or “just do it”, as our society encourages, unhindered by my faith in God. And there are times when I wish that God would look beyond my skewed perceptions and behaviors simply because he loves me as his child and expects that I am fully human”. That’s rationalistic enough, isn’t it?

This morning, I reflected on a book written long ago by J. B. Phillips titled, Your God is Too Small. Phillips had keen insight into the human condition and wrote that we put God in a box of our own perceptions and ideas as though we could control Him as well as the outcomes we have chosen for our lives. Times have changed perhaps, but the one constant is that our human nature and condition do not change. We still want our God in a box. We still want a God of our own choosing.

The Corinthian Church dealt with similar issues. They knew who God was by their cultural standards and so made broad allowances for their behavior.  The problem, writes the Apostle Paul, was that they could drum up all the philosophical reasons about God without really knowing God at all (1 Cor 15).  The same applies to us.

If we imagine that God thinks the way we do and that he tolerates us because he knows we are earthly and therefore, fallible and human, we can excuse a multitude of even inappropriate behaviors. But this is a cultural conception of God, not the God of the Bible. For there, we do not read about a god of our own choosing that we can take for granted, but a God who chose us to become more like His Son, Jesus. That is the glory of the resurrection — that we would become like Him. The more we know God with our hearts, the more we become like Jesus, who is the “fullness” or “mirror image” of God

Without this heart-knowledge of God — without knowing that with every step we take, we are always walking in God’s sight — all we could hope for is to live as happily as possible until we die. There would be no hope beyond the confines of this world. If this is the case,would there really be any point for faith in God at all? The Apostle Paul put it this way: “If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die'” (1 Corinthians 15:32).

The more I think about it, the more I realize that believing in a God who I create in my mind is absolutely nothing compared to believing in a God who chose me to become more like him. I don’t want a God who merely tolerates me for my ineptitude in living out the Christian faith or excuses my sinfulness because I’m “merely human”, but a God who loves me even when I fail to live the life of faith perfectly. I’ll stick with the God of the Bible.

From the Front Porch: Loving the Unlovely

July 30, 2011 2 comments

The Apostle Paul summed up all the commandments in one rule:  “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans 13:9, NIV).  Of course, Paul is quoting the words of Jesus who put it this way: “do to others what you would  have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12, NIV). This means that we are to treat others with the same amount of respect and dignity that we want others to give us. That’s tough to do  with the road-raging maniac on the highway; the churlish boss who bullies us around the office; the person at the gym who hogs the weight machine, taking long breaks between sets while we wait;  the impertinent, rude sales clerk, and many others. Loving people who are unlovely is, at best, a difficult thing to do. But loving them as we love ourselves is nearly impossible.

However,  as we understand the strength and presence of God‘s love in us, loving others — even the unlovely — becomes possible. Loving others, even as difficult as they are, requires acknowledging that at times, we too are unlovely. Yet God loves us so much that He was willing to lay down his life for us. With this changed perspective, now is a good time to love — even the unlovely.

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