Today, we pick back up where we left off yesterday (June 24th, Part I posting) with a further exploration of the Nature of God.
Can we ever really know this Almighty Being we call “God”?
We look to Jesus to see His heart. It’s so simple, yet so profound. He looks like Jesus.
God bless us, Every One, and Happy Sunday.
By: Jana Greene
What if God’s nature is really only good?
A few weeks ago, I camped out in the lesson presented by Francois Du Toit, “Celebrating His Initiative.” Webster’s Dictionary defines “initiate” as ‘to begin, set going, or originate: to introduce into the knowledge of some art or subject. And to propose (a measure) by initiative procedure.
Initiate is a verb! It is an action. There is nothing passive about it. Jesus has issued a proposal on bended knee and bloodied cross. This voluntary decision by God of God is a thing to be celebrated!
I don’t think I’ve ever grasped the finality of what happened at the crucifixion and resurrection of God. If it is finished, the residual guilt and shame I keep picking up and hauling around is not my cross to bear– as I’ve always believed. The grace I ask for and receive is not meant to counterbalance the heft of my shame. I do not receive grace by the bucket-full to douse the fire of each indiscretion – I am already drowning in it. So are you. The work of the cross was the catalyst for God to flood the world with grace.
Religion taught me that God swoops down and saves me from myself a thousand times a day, and that’s what grace looks like. But I’m learning that Abba is pulling me away from the idol of religion and into Himself. My weaponry of thin, papery religiousness is powerless against His embrace of Truth.
Bradley Jersak’s book on the subject sharpened my focus on divine grace vs. rhetoric.
“Setting Jesus as the standard for perfect theology, many of our current Christian beliefs and practices would obviously face indictment. Even significant swaths of biblical literature don’t line up well with the Christ of the Gospels. Claiming that God is revealed perfectly in Jesus triggers tough questions about the God I once conceived and preached. Jesus’ life and character challenges my religious clichés and standby slogans—especially the rhetoric of supreme power and irresistible force.”
― Bradley Jersak, A More Christlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel
In the segment “Who is the Father,” presented by Mike Zenker, the truth of Abba’s consistency is highlighted in Matthew 11:27, which says “All things have been handed over to Me by the Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”
Or, as The Message translation reads: “Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. “The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor does the Father the way the Son. But I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen.”
Religion says we are responsible for aspects of our salvation – ergo, we can turn the volume up or down on our spiritual speaker, tweak the boom of the bass, turn down the treble, change the center with the fader of our deeds and actions.
But God cannot be moved from Center. He is the Center. He is undeterred by the noise we create.
Fundamental to this spiritual epiphany is the idea that we are not “sinners saved by grace,” which I have – over the years – convinced myself was my identity. After many years of sobriety and much prayer, that had been the only conclusion.
But what if the work of the cross – that event in which Creator God heaved toward humankind with such love and power that it knocked the evil in us to the ground and buried it with Christ – was powerful enough to resurrect us in glory with Christ, while leaving evil in the grave?
What if God only sees us through the lens of his living, life-giving Son, and not as sinners wearing toe-tags that say “Admit One – Heaven.” I am going to have eternal life, yes. But I don’t want to slog out my existence here during my mission on Earth, not understanding and appreciating what my birthright truly is. I want joy now too, please.
Jesus is joyful! He is not somber.
“A Papa with a sense of humor: “Christ’s humor is always redemptive, never mocking the individual. But He is sharp and sarcastic in His derision of those institutions such as Pharisaism, which posture in their self-made self-importance. Wisdom”
― John Crowder, Seven Spirits Burning
Another epiphany? God has a sense of humor! What a blessing for us all.
Of all the lectures in Course II, “The Dynamic, Artistic, Creative Being of God” by Andre Rabe struck a chord in my soul. As a messy, creative person, it’s lovely to know that I inherited one of my attributes – writing – from my Papa.
The arts are a pulpit for the Muse, divinely given. The amazing thing is that as the Triune God is our Muse, we are His as well.
In nature, we see His artistry all around us. I’ve often lifted a sea shell from the beach and marveled at the fine details adorning it. I’ve wondered at the Blue Ridge mountain range in their ancient perfection. Animal, mineral, vegetable – everything in creation attests to the existence of our creative God. His nature is in nature.
One of the ways I like to celebrate God’s initiative and parlay his creativity is through writing poetry. In concluding this essay, I would like to leave you with a work that God ‘downloaded’ (for lack of a better term) in my spirit a while ago. I believe He gave the words to me as I wrote, as it came to me impromptu and with fierce passion. I believe He was sharing His very nature with me.
Everything I’m learning at Global Grace Seminary lends credence to what I wrote that day.
God bless us, every one.
Agape for Amateurs: a love letter from God
Oh Dear Created One,
Do you know who you are to me?
Who am I, you ask?
I am Love….only ever good.
And you are my handiwork.
I am not angry with you.
In Jesus, I gave myself to you, for you – redemption in one fail swoop.
When you have a misstep, I am saddened because you are hurting. But I will never leave you.
I am with you to the ends of the earth and in the deepest crevices of your spirit.
Your hurting places don’t scare me away.
When you deny me, curse me, hide from me – I do not shy away, nor do I condemn you.
The finished work of my Son ensures you that I keep no records of your wrongs,
But have been courting you all along.
Where there is love, I am.
This fallen world – where hope seems in deficit – does not merit your trust. But I do.
I am trustworthy.
All the things you’ve been foolish for have torn you down, yet you are so afraid to be a “fool” for me?
Enough of the fallen.
Enough of the foolish self-dependency.
Walk with me – I long to raise you up!
That small, still voice?
It’s me nudging you.
Can you feel it?
Let yourself consider that I am never more than a nudge away.
That roaring storm of emotion that pulls at you? Called by 1,000 different names?
The emotion is my urging, too.
You were created to feel.
Your quirks and your passions make you one of a kind, in a world of billions.
I see you.
I see you!
And you matter to me.
“This life is hard,” you say – and I know that it’s true.
You see, I am human, too.
The friend I left to you – the Holy Spirit – is available to you, in you.
The Spirit rejoices with you in times of celebration,
And in times of sorrow, she brings great and all-encompassing comfort.
Cut through what others have told you about me.
Throw away the ritualistic, legalistic, egotistic religion.
Cut through the culture of shame.
Have your own relationship with me.
Not a figment of imagination in stories from dusty texts,
But a force of creation, life, and love to be reckoned with.
Nothing is happenstance.
Believe in me, and you have all the love to gain!
In your hurting places.
In your hiding places.
There is no deficit of hope, Dear One.
Only the great gulf between us that you’ve erected in the name of self-preservation.
I would love to close that gap and draw you so near that you feel my breath in your ear as we embrace.
I am embracing you now.
I delight in you.
Seek my face.
I shall never hide from you.
There is no other like you.
You are my BELOVED!
With boundless grace and endless love,