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an incomplete explanation of an idea that has been bothering me for the last few weeks

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. – Gandhi

I’ve heard it over, and over. I’ve said it myself. There is something deficient in Christianity today. Many people have said that the problem is that Christians don’t live up to what they believe. I can find that sort of thing easily enough in my own life, as I am sure that you can. For example, we rejoice in the mercy of God, but we refuse to forgive the minor offenses perpetuated against us. Lately, however, I’ve begun to suspect that the real problem has deeper roots. I suggest that perhaps the problem is that we measure up exactly to what we believe, but we have belittled God in our hearts. We have abandoned the God of the Bible for a domesticated, predictable, and easily contained god. Our idea of God has become small, and so our lives are small as a result.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. – Deuteronomy 6:4

When you are dealing with God, normal words are insufficient. We may say that God loves us, and it is true. But that word, “love” only describes a narrow window of God’s feelings for us. It doesn’t capture the untamed passion of a God who loves people so much that he sacrifices everything for us, including his own very life. “Love” does not encompass the patience, compassion, mercy, or jealousy of his love. It does not tell us of God’s dogged pursuit of those whom he loves. It does not speak of the joy with which he celebrates over us. It doesn’t reveal the persistent grace that he gives to his loved ones who have turned away from him.

So we may say that he loves us, and this saying is true. But it is incomplete. And we must not allow our minds and hearts to be satisfied with such narrow words. We must not be satisfied with such a tame idea of God. But when we hear such a thing as, “God loves you!” we must let it awake in us as close to a complete description as our beggarly brains can come up with. And we can’t stop there. For God is not just loving. But he is also good, and righteous, and true, and holy, and on, and on, to infinity. He is inexhaustible in description.

And to my thinking, when we begin to turn our minds away from the little god that we are comfortable with and used to, and turn our minds toward the immense God who explodes beyond our capability of expressing or containing, it will change the way that we go about our lives. When we see that we are dealing with a God who loves in the way that we just began to describe, our love for our neighbors will step out of trite words and forced smiles. We will step into a practical, compassionate, and effective love, a love that more matches the love of our God. And so with righteousness, and truth, and holiness also. And then, Christian, we won’t be in the awful position of blocking the view to Jesus.

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good questions

I’ve got this form I have to fill out. I’ve had about a week to think about it, and I’m throwing myself at it today. It’s pretty interesting introspection, and generally good for the general public, in my general opinion. So look it over, if that’s your thing. Some of the questions might not apply to you, but I’m sure you’re intelligent enough to substitute the misdirected ones for something more appropriate to yourself. How would you answer these questions? Answers can go in the comments, if you’re feeling brave.

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yes, another post about reading

I can usually tell pretty early on to what degree I’ll get into a book. I’m sure this is true for everyone. You read this first chapter, or the first fifty pages and either you’re hooked, you’re bored, or you’re somewhere in between. The opening lines of the most recent book I picked up described the path of a river rushing down the mountain on its way out to sea. As you may know, rivers hold a special place in my heart. An inclination, you might call it, or a fascination. And as the narrative widened out to include characters, I found them to be as equally fascinating as the imagery of rushing water.

When I first picked up this book on Saturday, I was wary. It was long, and I’m already elbows-deep in several other books. Plus, I knew I had another book waiting for me at the library. I tend to get in over my head with having such abundant access to books lately. It seems that I want to read every book I come across, and I’ve been trying to hold myself back from starting more books than I can keep track of. But, I was done with all the books I had in my truck, and I don’t really like reading on my phone. I was about to start a long roasting shift, I didn’t want to get bored, and I was in a bookstore. It was pretty unlikely that I’d be walking out empty-handed. So, I ignored my misgivings and took my new acquisition up to my coffee-roasting lair.

I paused tonight at page 111 and looked at my surroundings. I was back in the lair for another roast session. As I checked the gauges and noted the time, I had to acknowledge to myself just how hooked I was. I could see the hook in my imagination. It did not dangle in the water. It burst forth from the sea to catch a man from the shore, big enough to hang a cow on and attached to a thick rope. And I’ve got it stuck in the meat. I’m okay with the hook, it’s enjoyable. But the tug on the rope worries me. I don’t know where it’s going to take me.

4/9/12

• My ideal pet is a fox. Feel free to tame one for me.

• It turns out that if people are angry with you, cracking jokes doesn’t help.

• I learned recently that animal prints are considered a neutral color. Supposedly that means they go with anything. Who knew?

• This is awesome: http://maddieonthings.com/

in praise of reading

One of the most unpleasant experiences I know of is to stop reading a good story before it is through. To finish a good story is bad enough, though great tales combine the bitterness of exile with a certain sweetness of satisfaction. But to leave off before the story is completely told is unremittingly bad. Continue reading