I have begun to be challenged by a new idea. I recently read a book which asked a question. Is your God to nice? I have to say it made me a little uncomfortable. I have gone through many seasons in my walk with God where He revealed more of Himself to me and I came to know Him a little better. Times where my understanding of who He is changed. I feel myself at the brink of another change.
The main focus of most Christians today, at least the ones I have met, is that God loves. In fact you don’t have to go into a church or talk to a Christian to hear that statement. It has been a part of our culture in North America for many many years. And while this is a true statement, because God does deeply incredibly love us, it I think has left us with an unbalanced view of God. It has caused us view of God which is more like Santa Claus than the creator of everything and the one who came to save us, and who will come again to judge us.
I have heard many many Christians say in one way or another “God sees my heart and He know how hard I try..” I wish that was all it took. We live in a society that sees God as condoning our behaviors and patting us on the head saying “Its ok. You’ll do better next time.”
Many years ago I came to personally experience the extravagant indescribable love that God has for me. It was a powerful life changing experience. One that I still have trouble describing because that kind of love defies description. And my prayer for everyone is like Paul “I pray that you will know the love of Christ. His love goes beyond anything we can understand.” Ephesians 3:19 NLV
Our problem comes if we only focus on God’s love. Because the God who says “I am the Lord, and I do not change.” Malachi 3:6 NLT is the same God who destroyed whole cities and nations because of their sin.
We have shifted away from a God whose justice demanded a high price for our wrong. A God who knowing we could never pay that price, and loving us to much to leave us there paid for our choices and decisions on the cross. We have lost the cost of sin in our lives today. We have an attitude that God forgives and we can just carry on. Everyone of us does wrong every day. And every wrong we do is the reason Jesus suffered and died the way He did.
We serve a God who still punishes sin. Many times in the new testament God struck people dead in churches. People lost their sight, or voice. People who took communion with the wrong attitude even became sick and died (1 Corinthians 11:27-30). I think God is asking His church today to change our heart and put aside our impressions of who He is and to begin to seek Him as He is, for who He is like never before. It is time we asked ourselves “Is your God to nice?”
There is a major push today for everything that happens to make sense to us. We strive to understand everything from the celestial patterns of the stars above to the very small idiosyncrasies that we all have. We struggle and strive to make everything fit into a neat and tidy box where everything fits and has a place. And when it doesn’t many of us struggle with why.
Every one of us from the smartest person to the least intelligent struggle with trying to make our lives make sense. The reality we all live in, even though we do our best to ignore it, is that life really doesn’t make sense. We fight and struggle to make all the pieces fit, and we are sometimes successful for a time. But then something happens. Life enters our perfectly aligned world and scrambles all our pieces again. For many of us this can be extremely traumatic depending on our circumstances and how badly we need our lives to be in order. Life just refuses to be squeezed into our understanding of what we think life is meant to be.
The same thing happens when we try to make God fit our understanding. I have spoken with many Christians who don’t understand what God is doing and often write it off because it doesn’t fit with their understanding. And as a result completely miss out on a tremendous blessing and life changing encounter with the God who created them and deeply desires to be known and experienced by them. It is unfortunate that this happens and my heart goes out to them every time. Not everything that happens can be called a move of God. But a great many moves of God have gone ignored and missed completely because they didn’t fit with our expectations or understanding.
We are not the first ones and definitely will not be the last ones to struggle with this. Jesus himself walked the earth and many people were powerfully blessed and impacted by Him. But a great many refused to receive from Him because He didn’t fit with their expectations and understanding. Jesus didn’t make sense to a great many people. The Pharisees were the ones who prided themselves on knowing and following God. They even bragged about being able to know what God was doing. “If we were alive when the prophets of old were here, we wouldn’t have stoned them, but would have known what God was doing and have surely followed.(my loose translation)”. And yet they missed completely who Jesus was. Jesus Himself said to them “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”John 5:39-40 ESV
Many times we miss the moves of God because we have expectations that God does things a certain way and are guilty of missing what God is doing because we rely on our understandings to reveal what God will do, rather than be open to God speaking to us and revealing Himself in ways we don’t expect.God often moves in ways which cause us to say “That doesn’t make sense”. Our task is to be open to what God is doing and allow Himself to reveal Himself to us and be willing to set aside our expectations and understandings and allow Him to be who He is, not who we expect and understand Him to be.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8 NIV
We will always get ourselves into trouble and miss out completely on what God wants to do if we rely on our own wisdom and understanding. God is moving in our world and in our time, changing and impacting lives. Will we choose to be open and apart of what He is building, or will we hold tightly to our own understanding and expectations and miss out?
When God moves in our world it is often confronted by the wisdom of man. Many times man has stepped in front of what God was doing and stated “This is not of God.” Only to be proven wrong when we look back through history at what God had accomplished.
“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.” Corinthians 1:26-27 NLT
Many times throughout history God has moved in great power. And those who were supposed to know God’s hand and ways criticized and declared it wasn’t God. Something we see all through the life and ministry of Jesus. He came into this world to reveal the Father to us and to ultimately pay our penalty so that a relationship with God and us could be restored.
Every time God moves there are critics to the way He decides to move. Someone once said “God offends the mind to reveal the heart.” And often our heart gets in the way of what God is wanting to do. The way He moves or the methods He uses cause us to turn our noses and say “Yuck.” I have had the privilege of studying many of the past moves of God, and the changes that have been made in the church throughout history, and I have been amazed that the trend is always the same. As the presence of God increases, the opportunity to simply say “Yuck” when we see what is happening and dismiss it also increases.
Whether is our pride that gets in the way, or the way we “believe” that God should move, or the methods or people He chooses to work through. The move of God always reveals what is in our hearts. Do we desire the presence of God more than we desire our comfort and security? Do we desire the anointing of God more than our reputation and image?
There is an awful lot of crap in our world today being disguised as “Christian” , or “God moving” and we do need to be careful what we choose to believe. This is what we are encouraged to do in scripture. “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.” Even though we need to be careful about what we see is God moving, we also need to be careful what we write off as not God.
Jonathon Edwards said “the task of every generation is to discover in which direction the Sovereign Redeemer is moving, then move in that direction.” God is doing a great work in our day and time. I am excited to see what He is going to accomplish and the lives He is going to change. The question is will we decide to be apart, by being open to His lead, or will we hold tight to what He has done in the past and dismiss what He is doing today? We can turn our noses up and say “Yuck” if we choose as many many many people have done before us. Or we can allow our hearts and lives to change and enter in to what He is doing here today.