He is not a tame Lion

I had an epiphany the other day. I was wondering about my views on God, Christianity, and the general meaning of life; but mostly, I was pondering God himself. Having grown up in a world of mega churches, hip devotional books, and Veggie Tales, I sometimes feel as if I’m worshipping a concept and not God himself. So what should I be worshipping, I wondered? Who is it that I’ve devoted my life to? How come stories of mythology and the wild, pagan gods of civilizations past seem so much more alive than the conception of ‘God’ that comes into my head when His name is mentioned? And I realized something that, for me, was like a bolt of spiritual lightning.

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So often, without thinking, I worship a notion of God. A flat, three-dimensional ‘god’ formed in my mind by the world I grew up in. We hear sermons that warn against the mindset of ‘putting God in a box’ while doing that very same thing. The ‘god’ we automatically believe in barely does justice to God’s shadow. When someone says God, we even get the mental image of a human being in our mind; of countless paintings and movie actors and statues we’ve seen depicting the so-called creator as nothing more than a finite mortal creature. Without meaning to, we have created an idol and called it god.

But this is not God.

The Real God is an all-powerful Being who existed before time and space; an ancient, beautiful, wild One who looks like nothing we could ever imagine, who loves us in ways we could never fathom, who sees into our very hearts and souls. We should worship the God who, with a wave of his hand, created something from nothing. The God who loves and wars and casts down, who raises up, who saves, and who dashes against the rocks.

He is not the God of coffee machines and six-thousand-chair church buildings and televangelism. He is not just a man in a robe. He is not a genie we can conjure whenever we want something. He is all. He is the depths of love  and wisdom, and he is uncontrollable and infinite and so very alive and so much more than most of us recognize. He is the Lion. He is vengeance. He is peace. He was. He is. He will forever be.

I will be guilty of many things in my life, but I pray the one thing I will never again be guilty of is worshipping the world’s god over the God.

“‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

God is not your bestie

Something new has happened in the 21st century that has infiltrated churches, Christian bookstores, Christian music, and Christian thought, and I believe it is one of the most detrimental ideas that faith has ever had, and it’s the idea of a ‘bestie God.’ As a Christian, every time we turn around, we’re being told that ‘God is our best friend,’ that you can talk to Him however and whenever you like, that He loves you unconditionally and that you should hang out with Him more than anyone else in your life.

While some of this is true – the Bible does say God is a friend that sticks closer than a brother – the idea of God as our BFF has weakened our Christian faith. You don’t see King David pulling out his harp and saying, “So yeah, God, hey; you’re my best friend and all, and it’s really cool that I get to hang out with you, so here’s a little number in your honor.” You don’t see Paul telling us to ‘hang out’ with Jesus.

We used to believe we could only go to God through someone else, and that changed – but now, the thought that we can sling our arm around God’s shoulder and friend Him on Facebook has turned what should be reverence, honor and respect into something weak and pathetic.

We’ve stopped worshipping at God’s throne. We’ve turned Him from an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient King into a ‘best friend who’s just like us!’ and it’s chipping away at the foundation of our faith. Is God our friend? Absolutely. Does He love us unconditionally? Yes. Does He ever demand less than honor and glory from us? Not really.

You don’t take a selfie with the Creator. You don’t hang out and have fun with the King of Kings. You spend time with Him, you learn from Him, and you come to Him as often and frequently as you can – but you remain humbled. You bow before Him. You show Him all the respect and service and honor He deserves (i.e. all of it).

God is your Friend, but He is not your bestie. He is your Lord, your King, your Creator, and He loves you more than you can possibly imagine.  On Sunday, we were asked to ‘give God a hand.’ God doesn’t need us to ‘give him a hand.’ Give Him  your sorrow, your sins, your obedience, and your own humbled, human love.

Give Him what He asks for.

 

let’s be adventurers

When I say the word ‘adventure,’ what do you think of? Do you think of globetrotting around the world with an airplane followed by red map-markers, Indiana Jones-style? Do you think of setting out to hike the Appalachian trail? Do you think of Bilbo charging up the hill, waving his note and shouting, “I’m going on an adventure!”

Adventure can bring a lot of things to mind. For me, adventure is the time I went hiking with childhood friends in the forest behind their house. We got lost, picked flowers, and were late getting back. I got in trouble. It’s still one of my favorite memories. Adventure is training an ornery horse who wants you off his back at all costs. Adventure is flying above a forest floor strewn with pine needles on a zip-line, swinging your body to the right and to the left to avoid running into trees.

Or adventure could be something smaller. Adventure could be walking up and saying hello to someone you don’t know. Adventure could be pulling over to the side of the road and charging into the jungle to snap a picture of wild flamingoes. Adventure could be volunteering for something you’ve never done before. Adventure could be taking a walk outside when you don’t feel like it, or getting together with someone you only know online. It could be striking up a conversation with the person you think is cute. It could be staying up until four in the morning giggling with your sister on the hard floor of her room. It could be showing something you love to someone else and hoping against hope that they’ll like it, too.

Adventure is one of those Things. You never know when one will sneak up on you from behind. Or perhaps it will do a full-front tackle and knock you out of your comfort zone. It might be something huge and grand, like travelling across the world, or it could be something as simple as a phone call, or listening to a new band, or sending a handwritten letter to someone you used to be friends with.

Every day is filled with these tiny, microscopic adventures, if we take the time to see them for what they really are. And now and then, you should go out your front door and have a real adventure, one that involves doing something far out of the ordinary. Treat yourself to an adventure and you never know – you might find yourself hunting for more.

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