Friday, January 20, 2012

Thoughts on a Challenge

I know it’s been a while since I posted, but I haven’t really had a whole lot of time. Here is a much belated Happy New Year wish.

Now, down to the reason I am posting.

I have a constantly growing list of books I want to read. Some have been impromptu, some have been suggested, and some have been directly given to me. The book that I am currently working on in that list is called Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldridge.

I have found this book to be very challenging. While the tone he sets in this book has a “conservative” feel to it, he doesn’t really touch on any of the “conservative” beliefs. In fact, most of the book isn’t based on any traditional doctrine at all. Really, it is quite fascinating.

The basic premise of the book is discovering/re-discovering who Jesus really was. His personality is so skewed by what he calls “religious fog” and it is time we get back to how Scripture shows him to be: playful, fiercely intentional, most human of all, extravagantly generous, disruptively honest, scandalously free, cunning, humble, true, and beautiful. Seriously, no matter where you are in your relationship with God, I would suggest this read if you haven’t read it already.

I’m not quite done with the book, but like I said before, it has proven to be challenging. The challenge I want to touch on right now would be this concept of “Forgiving God”. If you are like me, the first thought you just had is, “God doesn’t need our forgiveness.” No, he doesn’t. However, I’m sure that there are many of us who need to forgive him. I think everyone has something that they are mad at God about, something they resent him for, are angry about, and even blame him for. In order to truly reconcile ourselves to God, the author proposes (and I agree with him), we need to forgive him of those things we blame him for. While God has never wronged us, we often feel wronged by God anyway.

“If God really loved me, he would take away my school debt.”

“If God really loved me, he wouldn’t have let my grandfather die from cancer.”

“If God really loved me, he wouldn’t have let me grow up in an environment where I felt worthless.”

“If God really loved people, then his followers wouldn’t be the most hateful to those who are different.”

Pain, brokenness, shame, anger; every one of us has a story. I haven’t discovered what I need to forgive God for yet, but I don’t have a doubt in my mind that if I look far enough inward I’ll probably find a few things. Maybe I’ll find a lot of things.

What are some things you blame God for?

Is it something minor? Is it a deep wound?

What does it mean to forgive God?

What is keeping you from forgiving him?

Interestingly, Jesus has always been very personal and intimate with his disciples or anyone else who has approached him.

In reverence we will pray to our “Almighty and Everlasting Father” which isn’t wrong, but Jesus came to us and said, “Abba, Father”. In today’s terms, “Papa, Dad”

Can you imagine going to church and hearing someone say, “Papa, we want you to come be with us.”

Suddenly, God has gone from some distant, uncaring being to whom we pay tribute, to someone who is intimately close and intensely aware of you everything you are.

I think sometimes our idea of reverence and respect for God get in the way of our hearts being open to what he really wants to do in our lives. We close ourselves off with jargon, lofty ideas, and good intentions. I have no doubt in my mind that when we use these reverent terms many of us have every intention of showing God respect, but it limits him.

Think about Peter, a disciple who loved Jesus so intensely and so passionately. When Jesus made a move to wash his feet, Peter protested out of reverence to Jesus. Immediately, Jesus told Peter, “that is not the way this works.” Jesus never wanted to be held back from doing what he needs and wants to do in our lives.

I think I have started rambling, so I’m going to stop this post here.

Still, I hope this has provided some provoking thoughts. I hope it sits uncomfortably with you. I hope you find it as challenging as I have.

Grace and Peace.

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