Thursday, June 6, 2019

An Abstract God

One of the challenges of modern Christianity is that we've attempted to center it in who God is, in the very heart of the One who created us and calls us to worship and intimacy. Saying that's a challenge to our faith may strike you as odd, particularly if you've been in the church lately. Isn't that what we're supposed to do? 

Yes and no. 

It's absolutely critical that we know God's heart, for we can judge our experience in the world by what we know of Him. He will not contradict or condemn Himself, so if we know His heart, we can trust what we experience of Him because it will be consistent with His nature. However, all of the emphasis we've put on His heart has separated us from His works. 

Again, I know what you're thinking - we're supposed to have a faith that move beyond what God does for us. He's not some kind of genie, you know. It's not about what we get out of it. 


If you believe in Jesus for any reason besides that He died for your sins and redeemed you to the life you were always meant to live, then you don't believe in Jesus. The foundation of His life, His death, His resurrection, and our faith is this act - what Christ has done for us. The foundation of our faith is a "doing" - what God has done. 

Every time you see His people in the Scriptures coming back to God, turning back to Him, recalling His faithfulness, it's always concrete. They tell the stories of parting the sea, stopping the Jordan, defeating enemies, stopping plagues, saving lives, healing infirmities...and on and on and on. Not once in the Bible do we see His people turning back to Him and declaring, simply, "Oh, our Lord is just good. He's just good and amazing. And He's love. Yes, He's love. And grace and mercy and goodness and amazing love." 

They always put skin on it. 

In fact, God Himself put skin on it. 

But we are a people who have separated ourselves from His works, thinking them somehow to lessen our faith rather than to strengthen it. If we only talk about what God's done, the world might misunderstand who He is. They might think it's about us and meeting our own needs, rather than about Him. They might get the wrong impression about what faith is. 

What we don't understand is that this world, Christians included, understand God better when we put skin on Him, when we talk about concrete things He's actually done. Not because it changes the point or the message or the mission but because it means something deeply more than a series of characteristics that we can't ever seem to pinpoint. 

Ask a Christian a follow-up. What does it mean that God is good? Oh, that He's good. What does it mean that He's love? God is love, don't you know. We can only answer character questions by repeating them in the answer. What is grace? Oh, our God is gracious. It's not wonder our world, and even our Christians, don't really know who God is. 

God parts the seas. He raises the dead. He gives sight the blind and sound to the deaf. He casts out demons. He makes the lame walk. He forgives sin. He comes through on His promises. That's who God is. He's a God who acts on His character so that we know exactly Who we're dealing with.

So...what has God done for you lately? And how does that change the way you know Him?

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