Monday, January 14, 2013

Fencing God in

I've started reading The Message translation of the Bible--just as something different.  And there are things that it says that just really stand out.  Like the first chapter in Hosea.  It says,

    "The first time God spoke to Hosea he said:
     'Find a whore and marry her. . . .'"

I just about dropped my Bible.  I mean, I know the story of Hosea.  I know what it's supposed to teach us about God and his faithfulness even in light of our unfaithfulness.  But really.... the first time God spoke to Hosea, this is what he said?  And Hosea just went out and did it?  Incredible.  There aren't even words that could contain all the thoughts and feelings I have about that.

So many times we put God into nice and neat parameters that we've created for him.  We dissect and explain and sanitize and fence him in.  We make an object of him in our heads so that we can have a sense of control--so we know what to expect.  And when we talk to others about God, we introduce them to that god--the one we made up and put in our own minds, the one we think we can control like a puppet.  Is it any wonder that so few people seem interested?

What if, instead of that, we introduced people to the Person of Christ--this being who exists apart from us and outside of our own minds?  What if we modeled prayer and submission to this Person, but we let our friends get to know him themselves, as we would if we introduced them to any other person in our lives?  What if we prayed for Jesus to show up through the Holy Spirit and touch their lives in a real and personal way?  What if we demonstrated what radical following looks like?

When we talk about Jesus, it's so easy to slip into the abstract, to talk about our beliefs about who Jesus is like our beliefs define him.  They don't.  Jesus exists whether I believe in him or not.  Jesus is who he is whether I know that about him or not.  And if he is alive, living, and active in my life, then I can expect that he is working in the world around me as well.

What about you?  What kind of fences do you put up around God?  How do you communicate that to others when you talk about God with others?  How might you be able to introduce people to Jesus as a Person instead?

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