Who is God? What does it mean to believe in God? What does it mean to believe God? Someone has said a God not worthy of worship is no God at all. If the only God we have is captured in the words of the Bible, then our God is too small. For people who think God is so small, we have the illustration of the prophet Isaiah's calling, "In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple" (Isaiah 6:1).
If our God is small enough to be captured in our imagination as we think God will have to answer our questions when we get to heaven, we need to be reminded by God's words shared by the prophet Isaiah, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9). If the God of our faith is so small that we can fully comprehend that God, then our God is merely an idol and not the ONE who truly IS.
Where do we get our words of faith? From the Bible or somewhere else? Are we involved in a Bible study somewhere that allows and respects our thoughts and feelings, where others will share theirs and I will respect those too. Then we can all go home and read and study some more instead of demanding our own thoughts to carry more weight than those of others. We do this to enrich our lives and our faith seeking understanding so that our words of faith will be evermore faithful, true, fitting and appropriate.
Where do we get our beliefs about our faith? From a denomination? From a particular church where we are comfortable or one where we walk away happy with our status in life whenever we show up? From one where we are constantly made to feel guilty and the guilt gets us nowhere? Do we get our beliefs from a system of rules and laws where we listen to others getting judged and because we are fearful of the same, we avoid doing things we hear are offensive? Is our church one that makes faith easy, to give a little, do a little, care a little, and then feel self-justified? Is it one where the preacher pours on the tears as if on cue? Or is our church one where we listen to faithful teaching, confessional preaching, and sincere faith, hope, and love? Is it a church that challenges us to grow in faith? Maybe that is too hard and we will keep looking until we find a church where we are comfortable, expecting a god to show up that demands little of us, one that we can discard easily and conveniently if it doesn't work for us.
Where is our assurance? Is it in a formula, a recipe, the words of some preacher who blesses my lifestyle, my money as long as I give it, or the choices I make that might otherwise make me doubt my relationship with God? Or is our assurance in an ongoing life of devotion, worship, prayer, confession, faith, hope, love, and service?
I want to live a life that is pleasing to God, knowing that I can too often be self-centered, self-justified, and quite ornery. Stubbornness can be a sin or it can be a saintly virtue. One of the scripture texts that has most challenged me is the fifth chapter of Galatians where the Apostle Paul challenges Christians are are trying to be self-justified and it turns out they are being less than Spirit-filled. I want to talk with God all the time. Even when I am with others, I want to be aware of God's presence as I talk and interact with them. I am not there yet, but hope to be someday soon.
Another worthwhile scripture to remember is this one from Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers (spirit-kin), whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Post that one in Washington, D.C. Read that one just before listening to our leaders and their political comments for whatever purpose they make them.
I am too often tempted to be critical, too often thinking other people ought to tell the truth, too often expecting too much from others and too little of myself. I invite your prayers and I will continue to pray to the God I am coming to know, standing up, kneeling down, lying down, seated, walking, pacing, doing chores, gardening, for I find that as the Apostle says, "Pray at all times" that is where a relationship is nurtured, where I am ever transformed into being the best me God has intended. We have a long way to go because I can be too full of myself and not full enough of God's Spirit. And the God I am coming to know is vastly bigger than my imagination, bigger than my expectations, bigger than my comprehension, bigger than all the power humanity can muster, and yet, this is the God who reaches out to each of us, to be personal, to be loving and to be loved, to teach us how to live and be the very best we were made to be so that we can give our very best to God and to the others God loves.
Be blessed. Be well. Love all the neighbors God gives you to love, wherever you are and whoever they might be. And if you don't know how, pray to learn, pray to know God's love for you. Be the blessing God has made you to be and pray the same for me.