Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Today's Confession

Well, in one more step toward transparency (in front of a faceless audience), it's confession time. I guess I’ve come to a place in my life where I realize God is a lot bigger than we make him, and I'm actually kind of snobby about it. I rest my laurels; on this realization that God is bigger than the box most people put Him in. I’m arrogant in that knowledge. I can sit back and say, you're full of it – God's not like that; I may not have all the answers, but at least I know yours are wrong.

And I've acted like knowledge of that is enough. I haven't done anything to try to get to know Him better. I haven't tried to figure out who He is. I'm content to know that He's not the God who hates gays, that He's not the God who wants to sponsor our wars, not the God who laid out a bunch of very specific rules but has disguised them just well enough that we can be arrogant and correct people. Not the God who can be defined by command, example, and necessary inference. Not the God that we can come to through a formula or set of easy steps.

And I think I've just now realized that to know that is not enough.

I think this has hindered my study of His word. In fact, just the word "study" bothers me. Not that there's anything wrong with that; it has it's place but shouldn't be the only means we come to know God. God is not a God to be dissected, to be put in a box and studied. I think we do a disservice when we forsake Bible reading for Bible study. We've made getting to know God an academic exercise. This has sat at the edge of my mind and eaten away at me for quite awhile now. There must be more to searching for God than that.

Don Miller suggests in Searching for God Know’s What that the only thing that truly changes a person is God’s truth, that is, His Word and His working in our lives through the Holy Spirit.

But by “His Word”, I don't think that just means the “study” of His Word – “study” of course meaning the dissection of the text into a list of do's and don'ts, pithy sayings, steps, and patterns. Getting to know God has to be so much more than the intellectual exercise which I have been guilty of. Sure the Word of God is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (Paul said that). But the Word of God is also transforming. It revives us (David), it gives us life (Jesus), hope, and comfort (Paul). We've let this modern, western world infiltrate our thinking. Logic has become the new god.

But I’m getting off topic. My point here is that I need to move forward. I need to move beyond this thought that I can only know God through academic study. It’s not enough to know what He isn’t. I need to understand Who He is. Through prayer, through more of the reading of His Word. Only through spending time with Him this way will I be able to do that.


  1. One of the questions that I (which has remained unanswered) regarding the Bible, is "how do we know that the NT was ever intended to be a universal set of imperatives for all people for all time? In otherwords, I am uncoinvinced that God (assuming that the bible IS inspired) ever intended the writings of the NT to be considered Authoritative.

    What this leaves me with is a way of approaching God that is not centered around rules regulations, criteria and plans, but rather an ongoing journey of understanding, observation, maturity. "Spiritual enlightenment" if you will.

    One of the things that those of us who have grown up in a fundamentalist background have a hard time letting go of, is that a relationship with God is not about all of these details. . it is about relationship--with God and with your fellow man. Once you move away from the Idolotry of the Bible, God is able to reveal alot more to you about His nature and his love.

    A good read: "God has a Dream" by Desmond Tutu.

    I will be thinking good thoughts of love and peace for you in your journey my friend!

  2. Thank you, Thomas.

    While I believe the Bible is authoritative, I also believe, that the message of Jesus is centered around that ongoing journey and relationship. If the most important parts were the details, we'd all be in trouble.

    I'll be praying for your journey, as well...

  3. thomas j. -i am a little intimidated by you and your abundance of knowledge plus interest in politics and our culture- so this response to jims observations about himself is somewhat guarded.

    it seems to me that you would be an asset to God's rule here. His kingdom. i wanted to not sound all 'christiany' but i know no other way of putting it.

    God has been crazy about you since forever. before He made you. i can think of no other thing He would want more is a relationship with you at least that's what i believe. the thing is once we are there, in that relationship we (like we are in relationships of people we love) try to please Him. Because we love Him. Genuinely.

    But we do still dissappoint (like in all relationships) He gets that is going to happen and in my experience i have learned God to be more understanding than any person i have ever come across here on earth.

    Not to mention forgiving and grace filled. (thank you God)

    I know what you meant by the "idolotry of the Bible" -i try to just see scripture as a source of getting to know Him better. I put it along with prayer and meditation and you are on your way to knowing Someone.

    I grew up "authoritative" and i am leaning to embrace that instead of resist it. It left a bitter taste in my mind about who God is that's for sure but now i am still slowly learning if i want to please Him, because i am crazy about this Spirit that lives in me then i want to know exactly what He likes, how He likes His steak, what drink does he prefer and how many kids does He want to have?

    i said you would be an asset to His kingdom for a reason. i believe if you started realizing this God i am in love would have a testimony that would blow the socks off a lot of ours. and then show other unbelievers exactly what OuR God can do.

    it sounds so... something- for me to say "you are going to be in my prayers"
    ...but you know you are. i think God's tugging you.

  4. Gena,

    You are more than kind, and I appreciate the care and concern that your comments reveal. That sort of courageous love is what God calls for in us as people, and it is that sort of love that breaks down barriers. . .I hope that you (and other readers) do not interpret my skepticism as an assault on your faith, nor as a rejection of God. Questions are questions, period, and I kind of feel that my mission is to ask hard questions.

    Please don;t be too intimidated by me. . I am a big loud mouth, but Jim and Krista can tell you that I am really just a big old teddy bear. More bark than bite.

    I think that the common denominator that we all share here is a desire to grow and mature. Many of the old pat answers are just not acceptable to us anymore, and while the previous generation may have been content with formulaic, didactic "religion", I think that there are many of us who want to beleive that God is something more than just 5 steps of salvation, 5 acts of worship, or three points and an invitation (and some of us are even a bit skeptical of being limited to an old and new testament, but that is another discussion altogether)

    I think jim is right in that God wants mor eout of us than to be focused on these things, and that He really wants a RELATIONSHIP with us.

    I persoanlly am glad to see that so many of my "former" bretheren are making moves into progressive directions and becoming less focused on all the nit-picky things that has characterized the c of C for decades. I am glad that the growth is taking place.

    As for me, I think that God can use those of us outside of that arena, just as easily as he can inside. . it is about being open and honest with oneself. Until we can all know fully.

    Until then, I remain your resident skeptic,

    Thomas J.