Today I break the cardinal rule of blogging, because my entry won't fit on one screen, but I am doing it anyway. Because I care that much.
I recently had a conversation with this brilliant eighth grader about how God speaks to us. I haven't thought about the manner in which He and I converse in a long time, I'm just grateful when I hear him. But I told her that often when I hear God, he's very direct, borderline sarcastic. He has a great vocabulary and doesn't pull any punches. But, and this is a massive, elephantine but, he is never condemning or judgmental. When I was getting ready to unload on someone about a bad day, he said, "Don't you spew that ugly into my world." But because I know he totally, utterly, fully loves me, it wasn't at all harsh. Same as when he called me out for self-righteous anger that I was pretending was wounded dignity. He was very blunt, but it's like being knocked backward off a pedestal into a pool of feathers, because he always catches and cushions me, protects me from condemnation.
It is a strangely lovely thing to be convicted by the Lord. It never carries guilt or a sentence, it only carries hope and a promise of better, more beautiful things in the future. It is the casting off of dead skin (I'm sorry, it's nasty but I couldn't help myself) or a spiritual corset, so that you can finally breathe and be free.
I heard two pastors this weekend in one service. One gave a message about the joy involved in seeking God's great and enthralling glory. The other opened the service by accusing us parishioners of rushing into God's presence, and closed by saying we need to sacrifice our glory for God's.
It was crazy. Really. You'd think you were at two different churches. First off, if I rush anywhere I want it to be into God's presence. If my heart isn't still, He can deal with that. If I'm not focused, the Holy Spirit will woo me so nothing else seems to matter.
And as for giving up myself in order to glorify God? When did I enter that picture? It's not a sacrifice when you have tasted God's glory. When you get to see Him flow through your fingers, your mouth, and when you get to feel His power go from you, nothing else compares. Humility is not a sacrifice, it is realizing who this vast, captivating, powerful, wise, brilliant, gentle, mighty, gracious, loving God is. When you look on Him, the rest isn't a sacrifice, it is that same dead skin I just don't want on my body anymore.
The experience highlighted how grateful I am that God is not a wrathful, vengeful, disappointed God. I feel like a lot of Christians--of whom I was one for many years--see a god looking down who says, "I love you, but I don't like you very much." Whose always shaking his head, lips bitten, wondering when we'll stop shaming him.
THAT IS NOT GOD.
It is impossible for Him to be disappointed. To do so would mean he didn't know all. You cannot be disappointed in something you know and expect. And he doesn't get mad at us.
I listened to Graham Cooke recently and he asked a few simple questions. "Do you believe that Jesus's death on the cross paid the complete penalty for all sin?"
If you want to believe in any salvation, you have to say yes. Because if any margin remains, none of us will qualify.
He also asked, "Do you believe that the death of the Christ fully satisfied God's wrath and justice?" Again, those of us who believe wouldn't hesitate to say yes.
He then made this startlingly simple, and life changing point. If all sin is covered, and all God's wrath is satisfied, then God doesn't get mad at you when you sin.
Yes, you read that.
It's a little uncomfortable at first. If he doesn't get mad at me, then what's to keep me from doing it again? If God isn't up there shaking his head and being hammered to the cross all over again, I might not have this guilt chaining me to a right lifestyle.
No, you won't. You'll have love. You'll have the heartwrenching love of a God who delights in you, who sings over you, who revels in you. And how can you not love Him back? In that love comes the only obedience worth anything. The obedience given of a heart that is free and chooses to bind itself in love.
It would be madness to think human love could meet, much less exceed, that of the Divine. So, if I desire my friends, loved ones, and eventually my spouse to relate to me through love, if I want the gifts they give, the acts they perform and the words they say to born of their love for me...why on earth would God desire less? If it would break my heart to know that those same people only interacted, only gave, only spoke because they feared me and to stave off my anger, how much more does it break the Lord's?
So, I'm getting longwinded, but I'm just so madly in love with a God who is so madly in love with me, who is in His purest essence love itself, who can't speak without imparting joy and stirring my soul, whose presence makes my life hum instead of plod...I take offense to people painting this openhearted gracious giver as a being who is angry, negative, or harsh. It's one of the Accuser's best lies because God's own children propagate it for him. I'm still not sure why, other than we fear sin and it gives us a sense of control to think God will get mad at people.
Deep down, I guess I don't care that much why, and when I dwell in his presence I don't even care so much that they do, because I know the truth, and every other thing on this planet dims in comparison.
God, the one and only Most High God, is love. He loves me. He loves you. He likes me. He likes you. His banner over me is love. He sings and rejoices over you. He is infinitely fascinating. He epitomizes compassion, generosity, provision, fun. He is good.
I'm indefinably grateful for who God is and that I get to know him. Lord, my dearest, most precious, I pray that your church the world over would see you. Silence the wrong, shout out who you are. To us, to the whole world. You are glorious, you are good, you are my joy and my all. All my love.