Love

Minimizing God: Missing The Real Jesus

 

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There is something very dangerous happening within the church today. A hazardous mistake that many of us are prone to make. Initially I was going to call this a dangerous trend, but in actuality this has been happening amongst God’s people ever since God has had a people. So what am I talking about? (The title of this post should give you a hint.)

Minimizing God.

When I speak of minimizing God, I’m not speaking in this case about our mistaken priorities, and even idolatry. Surely this too is a problem, and what I am about to discuss could definitely lead us further into this deadly trap. But for now, what I mean by the phrase “minimizing God” is the way in which we all tend to take one attribute of God’s character and elevate it above every other attribute.

For instance, there are some Christians who want to discuss nothing but God’s mercy. Others seem to speak of nothing but the judgment of God. Others say God is a God of love, and say they could never serve a God of wrath. But what does the Bible say? Is God loving, or is he wrathful? Is God a God of mercy, or is he a God of judgment? Well, what if I were to tell you the answer is yes?

God is all of these. God is Love. God is merciful. But God also judges, and God also pours out his wrath. Our God is just that big. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the Scriptures.

God of mercy:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespases, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved…” Ephesians 2:4-5

God of judgment:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

God of wrath:

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36

God of love:

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

Within God, we see all of these attributes. God is a God of love, a God of wrath, a God of judgment, and a God of mercy. God exhibits all of these attributes, and does so perfectly. And now I want to take it a step further…

Some of you probably noticed I only quoted from the New Testament. I did this intentionally. I have heard some people say, even some people who call themselves Christians things like, “The God of the New Testament is different from the God of the Old Testament.” Or, “Well, God is full of wrath in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament we just see grace.”

I’m not going to spend a lot of time here, simply because this is ridiculous. The Bible says time and time again that God doesn’t change. The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. This being true, we have to keep in mind that Jesus Himself was and is God, and therefore exhibits all of these attributes of God in himself. As Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God…” And Hebrews 1:3, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…”

So many times people act as if Jesus was some feel good hippie who never judged a soul, or never called out the sin he saw in others. But Jesus is the one who stormed into the temple swinging a whip and flipping tables.(John 2:15) Jesus is the one who said to the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more.”(John 8:11) Jesus is the one who will judge the sin of the world, the living and the dead.(Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Timothy 4:1) So, just as God exhibits mercy and judgment, love and wrath…So too does Jesus. You can’t separate any of these divine attributes from who they are. You can’t elevate one attribute above the other. When you do, you are minimizing who God is in his very person. You are making the God of the universe, who was revealed to us perfectly in the person of Jesus Christ, smaller than he really is. This is extremely dangerous.

We must worship the God of the Bible. Not the God of our own minds. All of us are in danger of falling into this trap. I would dare say, all of us have fallen into this trap at one time or another. Maybe we are there now. This is why it is so important for us to continually study the Scriptures and seek the face of God in prayer. This is why we must be continually seeking to know Christ and seeking to abide in Him and His Word.

God revealed to us through Christ is not a one dimensional God. He is a beautiful multifaceted diamond, that grows more and more beautiful at every angle.

 

 

 

 

This Unfathomable Love

If we use anything other than Jesus to gauge our relationship with Jesus, that relationship will suffer.

Let me explain…

Many times we will measure where we are with Christ based on our feelings. We either feel close to Jesus, or far from Jesus based on our affections for Jesus. Sometimes Christians measure their relationship based on performance. Other times we use how others perceive us and our walk with Jesus to determine how we are doing.

The problem is, in all of these situations our relationship will be found wanting.

The problem is, in all of these situations, instead of looking at Christ we are looking at ourselves. As long as we are gauging our relationship with Jesus based on how we are doing, our relationship with Jesus will suffer. This is simply because we can’t perform well enough, love Jesus enough, or do enough to make ourselves feel worthy of Christ.

If you think you can, or if you think you have, or if you think you are…then chances are you don’t understand faith. Chances are, you are yet to truly grasp the Gospel.

The essence of the Gospel is that IN CHRIST you are accepted. The essence of faith is that IN CHRIST you are loved unconditionally by the God of the Universe. These things are true in spite of ourselves. In spite of our daily failures, God still loves you, Jesus still wants to know you and fellowship with you. IN CHRIST you belong to God. You are loved and treasured by God…But this isn’t because of you, or how wonderful you are, or how much you love Jesus…It is simply because of Christ and what He has done on your behalf in this beautiful and unfathomable story that we call the Gospel.

We gauge our relationship with Jesus based on one thing(or better to say one person).

Jesus

As we look to Jesus we see that He has done enough. He is affectionate enough. He has loved us enough. We don’t need to worry about falling away, because He has us safely in his arms. Christ has placed us in the Father’s hand, and no one or nothing can remove us(John 10:29)…not even ourselves.

I’m reminded of Mark 14:26-31. In this passage, we see the disciples and especially Peter telling Jesus that they will stand by him no matter what. Peter says that he will fight to the death if he needs to. Jesus of course informed the disciples that they would indeed fall away. Not only would they fall away, but Peter himself would deny Jesus three times.

Peter and the disciples are basing their relationship on two things. Their affections for Jesus, and their performance.

We know what happens…The disciples scatter. Peter does indeed deny Jesus three times.

But of course, it doesn’t end there.

Peter and the rest of the disciples are later shown that in spite of their lack of faith and failures they belong to Christ and he will use them mightily in the building of his Church. Peter is shown specifically that Christ and Christ alone is to be his focus.(John 21:22)

This is no less true for us.

Jesus is the measure of our relationship with Jesus.

We must not be silent…

Please, pray for the people of Syria. I have been.

The silence amongst Christians in relation to the situation in Syria has dumbfounded me. I’m sure many are concerned, I’m sure many have prayed. But I don’t hear it. I spend time on social media… I’ve seen no Christians speaking up about the attrocities going on in Syria nor anyone talking about praying for these poor people who are being targeted and murdered by their own goverment. The world at large has been somewhat quiet…but an outcry from within the body of Christ has not happened…the silence is deafening. The world has an excuse. The church does not.

I think for some, it is confusion. We don’t know exactly what is going on…what we can do…so we say nothing. I admit, the feeling of helplessness is disheartening. I feel the same way. Yet, we can pray. We can raise our voices and speak up. If there is nothing else we can do, at least we can do this. I’m sure there are other things we can do…but as of right now, I don’t know what that is. I’ve looked around on the internet, but didn’t find much. Still, I pray. Still, you can pray.

I think for others, it is simply a lack of caring. It doesn’t affect us, so we have little concern. This is unexcusable. As human beings in general, this would be bad enough. If we are Christians, this is shameful, and a gross misunderstanding of who we are called to be. As Christians we are called to stand up for the oppressed, the powerless, the ones who can’t speak up for themselves. We are called to speak against, and to do what we can to stop the shedding of innocent blood. This is true whether these people are of our ‘tribe’ or not. If we can turn a blind eye to murder…I think it says much about our heart. This is a frightening thought.

I admit. I don’t have many ideas of what we can do. What I can do… We can pray. We can talk about what is going on to the best of our knowledge. We can express our hearts…which is why I am writing this post. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t seem like much. Yet, we must not be silent. There is no excuse for that.

I acknowledge there are many situations in the world that demand our attention. I know there are people all over the world being oppressed and murdered. I know there are many people in the world suffering and dying of things that are preventable. All of the things I spoke about above are true for these situations as well. We must not be silent…

I am not dismissing any of those things. The situation in Syria though, has really brought to light a major problem in the Church for me. Silence within the body of Christ as regards the suffering of other human beings who were created in the image of God. Tragic. We must not be silent…There is no excuse for our silence.