I have something to tell you. It may change your life.
It will challenge yet, I think in the end you will find it comforting.
Yes, both challenging and comforting. After all, sunshine and rainbows never changed someone. You must be provoked and prodded to change to accept a new outlook. Change is risky, so you must step beyond your normal bounds.
I want to tell you about the God I have seen, the God I know and trust is at the heart of the universe. This God is not a taskmaster. God compels not with force, but with love.
This is not about religion.
God has no religion. God is not a Christian, God is not a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist. All of those are human systems, which human beings have created to try to help us walk into the mystery of God. I honor my tradition, I walk through my tradition, but I don’t think my tradition defines God, I think it only points me to God. (John Shelby Spong)
God refuses to be put into a box. He defies all easy definitions. The moment you put Him in a box, He breaks out destroying the box and every other box. God is not a well-behaved noun that just sits still. God is a verb. (Buckminster Fuller) God is a wild, free, and irreverent verb. God isn’t safe, but he is good. (C S Lewis) The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God. (Rob Bell)
It’s about faith, about relationship not religion. Faith is the courage to accept the acceptance (Paul Tillich) of Christ. It takes courage to accept that we accepted, because too often we cannot accept that we are acceptable. We heap scorn on ourselves, while God is whispering I love you.
No matter what God’s power may be, the first aspect of God is never that of absolute master, the Almighty. It is that of the God who puts himself on our human level and limits himself. (Jacques Ellul) God became man in Jesus. Jesus came to proclaim good news to the poor… to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18) That’s Jesus’ manifesto. If anyone, I don’t care who they are tells you that Jesus was about anything contrary they’re wrong and should be ignored. Jesus came that we might be liberated from the chains that bind us and free us to have eternal life. Jesus presents us with what we could ever attain, without lifting a finger we are made free. In Jesus, God has put up a ‘Gone Fishing’ sign on the religion shop. He has done the whole job once and for all and simply invited us to believe it—to trust the bizarre, unprovable proposition that in him, every last person on earth is already home free without a single religious exertion. (Robert Farrar Capon)
God loved you so much that he forsook heaven to become man to live and love fully and radically (to show us how to live in grace by faith) died a criminal’s death (to free all from darkness) and rose on the third day (so that none may taste death). An infinite God can give all of himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of himself as fully as if there were no others. (A W Tozer) God loves you personally as you are, but way, way too much to let you stay that way. God expects more failure from you than you do yourself and still He loves as is no strings attached. Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39)
Jesus, because he is God, is already intimately and immediately present… Jesus is the Light of the world, not the Lighting Company of the world. Neither he nor his church is an electricity supplier you have to get wired up to in order to have light in your life. He is the Sun, not a power utility; all you have to do is trust him enough to open your eyes and presto! You had light all along. (Robert Farrar Capon)
Made in the image of God, we often fashion a god in our image. We make a god that mirrors our worst qualities, endorses our agenda and hates the same people we do. Even worse, we set up false limitations between God and people. We strap false claims to God saying God punishes, stalks, and lurks. I don’t believe in any God that records all of our sins in a big golden book and judges us when we die—I don’t want to believe in a God who would deliberately create bad people and then deliberately send them to roast in a hell He created—but I believe there has to be something. (Stephen King) The something sensed is the God who refuses to act as we want him to and laughs when we tell Him our plans. This God seen in Jesus beckons all to come and see that God is good that everything God ever created is very good (Genesis 1:31) and that nothing good ever dies.
Let’s go with Jesus. Not the gay-hating, war-making political tool of the right, but the outcast, subversive, supreme adept who preferred the freaks and lepers and despised and doomed to the rich and powerful. The man Garry Wills describes “with the future in his eyes … paradoxically calming and provoking,” and whom Flannery O’Connor saw as “the ragged figure who moves from tree to tree in the back of [one’s] mind.” (John Cusack)
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