Tuesday, November 11, 2014

He is More Than (Fill in the Blank)


We need to "love the Lord, not just the idea of the Lord" said my dear friend (SkillzUSA).

That hit home. Like me, I'm sure you've heard the cautionary metaphors and warnings.

Don't treat God like a magic vending machine. Don't just get your hell-insurance. Don't be afraid, as if He is some mean judge just waiting for you to be wrong. Watch out for getting so caught up in all the "love" stuff that you neglect justice and cease to fear Him. Don't be fooled into thinking He is just your invisible homeboy. Don't base your idea of God on experience instead of straight Scripture.

AKA: Don't reduce God to some idea you have about Him and miss out on His whole person as a result.

Fair enough!

 Our Lord is more than (fill in the blank). It's easy to let our perspective of the Lord narrow to whatever is most convenient for us at the time. We're likely to respond to the Lord based on our whims and the experiences we currently face. And that's not fair. That's  "me-centered" and inaccurate.

There is a bigger issue in this pattern of diminishing our view of God to a single attribute or two, though; these responses don't get to the heart of it. These common warnings focus on what isn't rather than what is.

And that's what our ideas tend to do in general: ideas address issues in reactionary ways. We come up with ideas to solve whatever's bugging us. Ideas are tools. They are created, manipulated, and guided by the things we face. Ideas are dependent on people, and they revolve around people. They aren't about what is, they are about what can be (and usually in our favor).

More than that, ideas aren't alive. They don't interact with us. Ideas have no will apart from ours, no abilities that we haven't fathomed.

When God is diminished to an idea -like a method for comfort when someone dies- we act as if God's character depends on us. And what we want. And what we're dealing with. We never get to what matters, we never open ourselves to a Lord that can surprise us and reach us even when we've forgotten He exists.

He is I AM. Done. Boom. From before time began. A living being who is more than anything you can fill in the blank with. Good news!

God doesn't depend on you or I. He isn't an idea. All those cautionary words and metaphors pointing out that God "isn't just..." are pointing towards a complete truth that confronts the nature of man and brings us into a redemptive relationship with the one who IS.

In our attempts to be like God, we must reduce God to something we feel we can control, alter, and direct. Just as in the garden the first people were tempted to become like God...by reducing God into something attainable, someone who can merely recognize good and evil.

The Lord knows this is our tendency. He knows that we'd like Him to be an idea rather than active and outside of our control.

He protects us from a resulting sin, saying Exodus 20:4-5 the second commandment: "You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God..."

When my friend differentiated between enjoying the idea of God (and our ideas about Him) rather than loving Him as He is, a question came to mind:

What ideas do we have about the Lord that we hold in higher esteem than the person of Christ?

Which ideas about the Lord do we use to justify our sins?

Is it the idea that He'll always be there that we cherish more than His presence right now? What about instances in which the idea that He is so loving causes discipline and hardship to challenge our belief in His love?

What ideas do we have about God that our circumstances can shake? Those ideas aren't who He is. Because He is more than (Yes. Whatever idea you come up with).