I’ve started to notice a problem in how I view God and in how I relate to him along this journey. There seems to be two gods knocking around. There is the God who loves us, who calls us, who comes looking for us, to welcome us into his family, who seeks us out as he sought out Adam and Eve when they hid from him in the garden. A God who loves welcoming people into his family, forgiving them, washing them clean and helping them live. A God who did everything to make that possible and transformed the world through his death and resurrection. And then there is the god I seem to functionally believe in each day, who is different. This second god isn’t one I’d ever tell people about, isn’t one I’d say I believed in but if you saw how I live, the large pile of guilt I carry around, the insecurity and the fear you’d think my god was a bit crap.
I don’t think I’m the only one. In fact I know I’m not. It scares me that I’m not. That we have got so used to living with the second kind of god, the one who makes us feel inadequate most of the time, who gets frustrated with us when we don’t get this Christian life thing right, who once he’s got us in with the shiny exterior of his promises just turns out to give a boring guilt ridden trudge through life. It’s like the wonderful wooing seeking God is just for people who don’t know him yet and once we sign up to life with him we get the small print shown to us. We’re left in a broken down theme park wondering why none of the rides work, wishing we could get out to the shinny happy theme park down the road which isn’t run by anyone and everyone seems to be having a much better time.
How did we end up here?
Becoming a child of God was meant to give us real hope, real security, real peace and best of all a life of love. A life that enabled us to stand freely as sons and daughters, loved and cherished so we loved and cherished those around us. Where did that beauty go? Do we even know the worth of that kind of life anymore?
What we’ve ended up with is a life that doesn’t work, we are scared to believe in an everlasting love, we’ve got so used to our walls of protection and ways of living that letting go seems beyond us. We are used to feeling guilty and dealing with that by doing a bit more bible reading, praying for 5 more minutes, doing more at church, listening to a Christian song, giving some more money, getting on the welcome team, doing another course and hoping the shine from that will keep us going through today. It doesn’t, because it was never meant to. We’re not able to keep going in our lives by the amount of Christian sub culture stuff we can cram into it. We keep going by breathing in the deep deep love of Jesus.
The trouble is, I don’t think we know how to do that, I think we’ve become so used to the lies around us that we’ve lost what it means to be loved and to love. God came for us to set us free from us, from the self obsession in our hearts and to join in the dance of love within himself. He still calls out, where are you? He still comes looking for those who are his children. Once we’ve joined the family he doesn’t lay out a 5 point plan of how to stay in his good books. His love is fresh today, new every morning. So what stops me holding out my hands and receiving?
I am my own worst enemy. I don’t want to hold out my hands because deep down I think I know best. I don’t want to live this life of love, I want to stay in the broken down world stuck in guilt and shame. I am twisted at the deepest level so that sometimes I prefer trying to sort myself out to asking for help from the one who loves me most. Because I know he’ll love me and then ask me to love others, to put others first and me second, to trust so much in his crazy self giving love for me that I don’t demand it from all around me and to trust so much in his never failing love that I don’t frantically try and plan how I’m going to be loved and adored tomorrow. His love never fails. I fear that it will and so I hide in the walled garden of my self protection and shame.
Thankfully that’s not the end of the story. I fear that it is. That my pride and stubbornness have shut me out of joy for good, that I am stuck in a land where I can’t go back to the life I once had because I know too much truth, but I can’t go forward into the land of freedom and joy because I am too stubborn and proud. It is not the end of the story. God exists here too, in the inbetween world of my guilt and shame, He comes looking for me and for you, he comes searching again for his children and asks “Where are you?” He comes, the lover for the loved. He comes, because he is able to humble those who walk in pride. Even my pride is not too much for Him, even my refusal to turn is not too much for him as he comes and patiently waits, patiently woos and patiently knocks down my walls of self sufficiency.
There is a land beyond our guilt ridden, pride invested landscapes and there is a God who comes into our landscapes, scoops us up from the messes we have made, puts his arms around us and welcomes us back home. Time and time and time again. He never stops. This isn’t a once in a lifetime offer, this is a daily, hourly experience. We have a God who never gives up on us. Like a father who never stops lifting his small child out of the corner he has got trapped in, from the mud he’s covered in, from the places he’s scared by we have a God who comes for us.
Try believing that just for a moment today….