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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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