I am a huge hockey fan, and I have played a little bit in a couple of beer-leagues, I mean, adult recreational leagues where only water or sports drinks are consumed, the last couple of years. When my wife and I were dating she made me learn how to play for my own good. Why wouldn’t I? I love the sport, and have followed the NHL for a long time, learn to play it. She’s the doer; if left alone I would just dream about it forever. So I got skates, pads, sticks, and signed up for a clinic. I wasn’t too bad, but I still can’t skate backwards and have “tripped” over the blue line on a breakaway, or two. I stopped playing in part because of kids, but it gave me a glimpse of what it was like to play the game I love so much, which is enough at this point in my life.
But it was only a glimpse, an impression. I have no idea what it’s like to be a pro, ride the bus or charter plane, have a team trainer take care of all of my stuff, get slammed into the boards, or take a 90 mile per hour slap shot to the foot, ankle, or face.
That’s how some people experience God. Maybe they went to church once. It may have been a good experience, but it didn’t change them, but they’re not rushing to go back anytime soon. Maybe they even went to a Christian or Catholic school as a kid, but it was only because their parents made them. There are the unfortunate examples where they had a bad experience with someone who claimed to be a Christian, took advantage of the situation or their position, and it left them with scars of how God is.
Whatever the case may be, the picture they have of God may not be clear, and it is not because they have looked into it. They just have that one glimpse or view and have decided that they understand God and He’s not for them. Unfortunately, you can only convey an idea so much before someone has to experience it for themselves. They have to choose to investigate and look into the situation on their own, and they have to want to do it.
You may have heard of Jesus, but you don’t know Jesus until you experience Jesus, which is just like any relationship with anyone else you know. You don’t know Jesus until you talk to Him, and you stop and actually try to listen to Him (it wouldn’t be much of a relationship if you were the only one talking). You may have heard of how He works from other people, but you don’t know Him until He has moved in your life, until you have experienced His hand working out for the good in your life.
It is interesting, to say the least, when you hear a false claim about a topic you personally know about. Maybe you don’t know a great deal about it, but you know enough that what you just heard was wrong. You can refute it the best you can, but the people spreading false information have to decide, willingly, that they are going to be open to a different point of view other than their own.
That’s not always easy, and the change doesn’t happen immediately. Nor do people, typically, want to hear another point of view, because that would mean that they are wrong, or just that what they thought was the truth wasn’t. And that always goes over well, right??
The easiest thing I can do is point to my life as evidence of what God is like. I am certainly not perfect, which is why I am a good example. God’s work is progressive. I am a work in progress and far from a masterpiece.
For a long time, I thought God was a vengeful God, just wanting to catch me in the wrong. So I would sin, as we all do, and then ask for forgiveness, and try to repent. Then sin, ask for forgiveness, try to repent, and repeat. Over and over again.
And get tired. Because I was trying to do it on my own. I was not resting in His power to take away my temptation to sin.
That would always make me pray and ask for salvation over and over again to make sure I could actually call myself a Christian. I was worried I could lose my salvation.
But God isn’t keeping score. He isn’t counting up all the wrongs I have done to use against me later. Because of salvation, I am forgiven, my sins are forgotten, and I am made clean. I will need to stand before God and account for my sins, but the blood of Jesus has washed away the consequence I would have faced.
The true picture of God is that He wants me to be free. He wants the weight, the guilt, the shame, and the pain of sin to be taken away from me. This way I am able to be free, free to do His work of serving others and sharing His word, free to share the story of the freedom I have been given.
To define God’s plan as salvation and forgiveness so that we can have eternal life with Him, “fire insurance”, is just so narrow of a view of God and His plan. It is like looking at God through a peephole.
Now, I don’t love God because of what I get from God. I love God for what He has already given me. And He wants to give me so much more. He wants to give you so much more. He wants to give you life abundantly and eternally.
I cannot even give you a full view of God. I am still learning about what He is like every day. What I do know of God is His grace, peace, love, mercy, and abundant life.
I don’t know your circumstances, but there is abundant life waiting for you. I know the world may not look like it is possible for you to have abundant life, but it is with God. The promise of salvation and forgiveness of your sins is just the beginning.
There are days I still wrestle with my human self. I see what is going on in the world, and I cannot understand how or why what is happening is allowed to happen. So I pray. I had to stop working the other day and fall to my knees and pray. I had to surrender my anger to God and be reminded that He has a greater plan. Then I felt His calm.
I still get angry, but I pray and ask for His peace. Because I know there is a bigger view. There is a wider lens to see God through, and I know the lens I am using is not wide enough still. It is getting wider, though, as I spend time reading about His power, His goodness, His purpose, and His plan for my life.
I just look forward, though, to when I can see Him face to face, without a filter.
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