God’s Identity Crisis

I would imagine that many of you read the title of this blog and were shocked! Before you brand me a heretic; allow me to explain. I do not imply that God has a problem with knowing exactly who He is. Rather, it is we, His creation, that is confused concerning God’s true identity. There are hundreds of misconceptions about who God is and what He is like but I think most of them could be placed under two major headings.

The Transcendent God. People see God as so holy, so powerful, so pure that He could not have a relationship with fallen humanity. It is true that God is totally above all creation.      1 Chronicles 29:10-12 ; 1 Samuel 2:2

The Benevolent Grandfather. Some people see God’s purpose is to make us happy and give us what we want. He is like a celestial vending machine; insert your prayer and out drops your answer. He is the “grandfather” who grants all our wishes. 

But I think the picture below shows the proper balance of who God really is.

jfk

This is the famous picture of President John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office. Underneath the desk is his son, John Jr. President Kennedy was the most powerful man in the world. He was to be respected and honored. And yet, he was a father who loved his son.  He had a relationship with his son, so “John-John” could pop out from under his desk and speak to this powerful figure without. 

…then the fog lifted.

On Sunday, 18 June 1815, one of the world’s most important battles was fought, the Battle of Waterloo. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was seeking to conquer the world. He was opposed by the Anglo-led Allied army under the command of the Duke of Wellington. After 4 days of the extreme fighting, Napoleon finally surrendered.

There was no way for the news to reach England except my ship. When a ship finally arrived in England they sent the message by the only means at their disposal. The ship communicated with those on land by the use of semaphore, a system of sending messages by holding the arms or two flags or poles in certain positions according to an alphabetic code. A fog rolled in and only part of the message that was read was  W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N    D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D… 

They assumed the worst and news of Wellington’s “defeat” swept the country. When the fog finally lifted they received the rest of the message, “t-h-e    e-n-e-m-y.”

In life, Christ’s message to us is sometimes obscured by the “fog” of circumstance. Sometimes in our hectic pace, we jump to conclusions without knowing all the details. Proverbs 25:8  The best advice is to be still until the fog lifts!

The Look

It amazes me that people are able to communicate with each other just by having a certain look on their face. A mother can give her child a certain look and the child knows they are in trouble. A young man, trying to win the heart of a young lady, can tell by the look on hrt face whether his efforts are welcomed. 

When Jesus Christ walked this earth, He conveyed a range of emotions by the way He looked at people. 

  • Matthew 9:36 “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them…”
  • Mark 8:33 “Jesus turned around. He looked at His followers and spoke sharp words to Peter…”
  • Mark 10:21  “Jesus looked at him with love…”

But the most notable look that Jesus gave anyone was when He looked at Peter after Peter betrayed Him. Luke 22:61  “Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered what the Master had said to him: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” He went out and cried and cried and cried.”

But Luke fails to describe what that look conveyed. Anger? Sadness? Disappointment? Compassion? Though no one can say for sure, I am inclined to believe it was a look of compassion. 

Sold As Is

Don’t you just love a good bargain? Most of us do. Whether it is a garage sale, second-hand store, or the clearance rack at the mall, we all like a good deal. What we don’t often like is getting home and realizing that our good deal wasn’t that good after all. It was an especially bad deal if we didn’t notice the “as is” tag. Most of us are leery of “as is” items.

Some stores call them slightly irregular, sometimes they are called seconds, but whatever you call them, it is simply another way of saying, “These are damaged goods.” And most stores give you fair warning: This item is sold ‘as is.

All you need to do is interact with another human being, and you will notice that earth is the “as is” section of the universe. Everyone we come in contact with is slightly irregular. All of us have flaws, imperfections, and damage. We all want to be normal, but the writers of the Scriptures insist that no one is normal. “There is none righteous, not even one!” (Romans 3:10) Jesus was quite aware that earth was the “as is” section of the universe. Yet, he came looking for us, knowing how flawed we are.

Jesus understood what it was to see people with their “as is” tag. He also understood that it was his mission to serve the flawed, no matter how big the imperfection.

GPS

Confession: I love electronic gadgets; especially my phone! The GPS is a tremendous help (most of the time.) When I type my destination into my phone, the first question that come on the screen is this: “Directions from current location?” In other words, “Do you want to start where you are?”

Of course I want to start from here. Sometimes I am not sure where “here” is! As soon a I tell the GPS yes, it begins calculating my route – not from where I started before I lost my way, not from the direction I should be headed but from right where I am now!

The most common reason people give for not following Jesus is that they want to get their lives together first. They want to start their journey from somewhere else than where they currently are.

Jesus reaches out to with grace and love and invites you to follow Him, right where you are. Start following Him right where you are and He wants you to start now!

Trust His directions!

Choose Peace

1951In 1951, the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still was a box office hit! Today it is considered a film classic. When a flying saucer lands in Washington, D.C., the U. S. Army quickly encircles the spaceship. A humanoid (Michael Rennie) emerges, announcing that he has come in peace. His galaxy has been obsereving Earth and they are concerned about the Earth’s future.

As many of the world’s greatest scientists gather, Klaatu (the alien) pointedly tells them that the people of Earth have a choice. They can join the other planets in peace, but should they threaten to extend their violence into space, “this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. We shall be waiting for your answer”. Klaatu then leaves as he came.

Though this was produced years ago, it shows us that America was concerned with its future years ago. Weapons have since developed that people in 1951 could never have imagined. Laser weapons. Heat-seeking missles. Drones. Dirty bombs. Iran and North Korea with nuclear weapons. We have the capability of destroying each other many times over!

While this film is fictional it is thought-provoking. How long can this world survive? How long before God says, “Enough!” Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,  for his compassion never fail.” Lamentations 3:22-23

Self-Worth

When it came time for my mother to give me birth; she went to our local hospital. Our hospital was considered small by most standards but they were quite capable. It just so happened that I chose a very busy night to come into the world. There were no rooms available, so they put my mother in the hall, placed a portable curtain around her for privacy and there I came into the world. [True story] Is it any wonder that I have dealt with feelings of rejection all my life?

But seriously, I have always felt that somehow I never quite measured up. I am not trying to solicit sympathy just stating a fact. In school, I never spoke to the popular kids fearing rejection. I always felt inferior to ministers that pastored larger churches. But when I read Mark 1:11, it changed my thinking about myself. God said of Jesus, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”  This was the beginning of Jesus’ ministry; He hadn’t preached His first sermon or performed His first miracle, so how was the Father pleased with Him?

Most people assume that God’s approval is based on their  ‘personal performance,’ But the truth is found in the words, “You are my Son..” God found pleasure in His personal relationship with the Son. God is not impressed with all activity but He is pleased when we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

How freeing to know that I do not have to reach a certain level of performance for God to be pleased with me. God loves me for who I am, not for what I do.