8 minute read
We become like the God we believe in.
This is something I’ve heard once or twice from leaders and it’s always stuck with me.
It’s important for us to know the God we believe in, and that how we live reveals so much about what we truly think his character is.
In the recent immigration debate, I saw some point out that people could avoid unnecessary suffering by simply following the rules. Rules which, are far from simple to follow, even by the best-intentioned. I’ve personally seen several friends work VERY hard to follow the process: couples who have a well-established marriage and even children together needing to be separated for a time because of bureaucracy. Those who are legally working in the country still pouring money into green card applications, renewals and extra fees for YEARS. The system itself is extremely flawed and inefficient, though that’s not an excuse to say then: let’s just burn it all down.
People make the argument that getting into heaven is the same: we come to God on HIS terms, not our own. My bible-educated brain dearly understands the logic of this argument, but I still can’t help but thinking that this really reveals so much about a certain view of God who has space for the “good, worthy people” and delights in the intense suffering of those outside the fold. Our rhetoric of eschatology (end-times) and Hell are so clearly linked to the way we live here on Earth today.
Jesus has done everything, sacrificed everything, to remove the barrier between us and God. He came to seek and save the lost and when people are found, and loved, and safe, then they recognize home. They see who they were created to be.
I think the message of the gospel is that we were all created to be in relationship to God. When that relationship is restored, transformation occurs. Lives are changed, and the desire to do good comes not from earning a place in heaven, or making sure our good deeds outweigh the bad. It stops being a competition of whether we have been better than those around us, and becomes a family where we are all working toward the same goal.
As God’s love transforms us, we are more concerned about loving our neighbor than trying to define who our neighbor should be. We don’t uphold our rules for fear of the whole system being corrupted, but instead obey out of love for the God who has given us perfect principles to live by.
In our modern day, we have boiled salvation down to something very simple – pray a prayer and you’re in. Say some words and believe them in your heart. In my context, people are not considered true Christians until they have been baptized. In other circles, there are those who would doubt your salvation if you haven’t started speaking in tongues.
What does it mean to be a Christian? To follow Christ?
Even in the Bible itself it seems there is no direct formula.
And this leaves so many questions about people in the Bible itself, what about the thief on the cross? The wise men at Jesus’ birth? That curious story in Acts of people who were preaching Jesus but hadn’t yet received the Holy Spirit? That problematic parable of the guest who wasn’t wearing the right clothes and got kicked out of the wedding banquet?
My point is, there are scriptures that, when taken alone, can be used to back up almost any point of view. However I’d like to challenge and invite us to a more robust openness to the scripture as a whole story of God’s work in the world. Look at the narrative behind the views we hold and look at the fruit it’s bearing. Is your doctrine of Grace leading to large-scale carelessness, harm and waste? Does your emphasis on holiness create robots who follow the rules without knowing the God who made them?
Does the way we live out our faith create life and light in the world? Or does it create more bureaucracy for those wishing to enter into a living relationship with God? That’s the question I ask myself today.
Charlotte is on the Editorial team at boldcupofcoffee.com and currently works with a non-profit organization in Taiwan where she teaches, leads English Bible studies, writes educational materials, trains teachers, poses for pictures, and a bunch of other stuff too. She is originally from Canada, spending significant amounts of time in all three westernmost provinces and the idea of home has become quite fluid. She has learned that life overseas is not as exotic as people may think, but life with God is a daily adventure.
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