Monday, August 23, 2021

Experiencing God

The fact that most of us are far-too-willing to tell everyone else when they're wrong, according to our personal beliefs, but that we would hesitate (if not run the opposite direction) when God tells us to tell them they are wrong should cause us a little bit of pause. 

What this means more than anything is that we put more authority in our own experience than we do in God's word and perspective.

And what this means more than anything is that many of us are living lives - even lives of faith - where we have not had a convincing experience of God. 

That's a problem. 

If the threshold for our action and our opinion is that we have considered an idea, weighed it out, measured it, and found it substantial - and not just substantial, but good (we don't usually fight for things we do not consider good), then the fact that we are unwilling to fight for God, or even to speak on His behalf, means we have not done at least one of these things. 

Maybe we have not considered God. Maybe we are among the thousands, if not millions, of Christians whose faith is not their own. We were taken to church by our parents or our other relatives, or we fell under the influence of someone we admire or even a good pastor, and the faith that we carry with us is theirs, not ours. We are Christians because someone else brought us to Christianity, and we have never considered it for ourselves. 

Maybe we haven't weighed God out. Maybe we are among the Christians who have been taught that we should never test God, that we should just accept what He says and whatever happens to us. Maybe we haven't had a life that requires us to test Him. Maybe we haven't needed (yet) to pray desperate prayers, crying out from the depths of our souls. Maybe we haven't needed healing or grace or mercy or whatever else it is that might have convinced us on more than just an intellectual level that God is who He says He is. Maybe we haven't needed God, so we don't know how good He really is. 

Maybe we haven't measured Him. Maybe we haven't held Him up against the things of the world and really seen the difference. Maybe we've spent our lives running to the wisdom of the world first and settling for what it is able to offer us. Maybe we don't know, in our own experience, how high, how wide, how deep is the love of God because we simply haven't measured it. 

Maybe we haven't found God substantial. Maybe we've been sitting in pews our whole lives and don't know what difference it actually makes, except that maybe now we get to go to Heaven instead of Hell (but who really knows?). Maybe we haven't seen a tangible impact of God in our own lives (and maybe for the three reasons we just discussed - because we haven't considered, weighed, or measured Him). So maybe we just don't know that God is substantial for ourselves. 

Whatever the reason, what we have is a whole generation of Christians who, by and large, have not experienced God in a meaningful way. We haven't encountered Him, and He's not a valuable part of our daily existence. So when we have something that we've actually had to wrestle with, we pretty easily form an opinion on it and we're pretty sure we're right. When that topic surfaces, it's not hard for us to take a stand. 

But without the same kind of wrestling, without the same kind of experience, with God, it's no wonder we run for Tarshish. We just aren't willing to put ourselves on the line for something we're not certain of. For something we don't know, with reasonable certainty, that we even believe. 

Wait...does that make us a generation of doubters? 

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