Have you ever heard someone talk about God in a way that you knew wasn’t God? They said something like… “I can’t believe in a God who would ______” or “I can’t believe in a God who hates ______.”
The first thought that crosses my mind is, “You’re right that’s not God.”
I want to tell them about the God I wish they knew, the God that I know, the God that has changed my life, but most of the time they aren’t ready to listen. They are just venting pent up frustrations about life or about the way someone has treated them.
I wouldn’t want to follow a God like they described either. I want a God like Jesus described.
One of the reasons Jesus came (Christmas) was to show us what God is like and create the Way to get to God.
So how does Jesus describe God?
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. –John 3:16-17 NIV
It feels like some followers of God have forgotten the way Jesus described God because they can express a lot of condemnation.
I recently met someone at the church I pastor who hadn’t been to church in decades. What could possibly keep him away for that long? The reason… he had watched a TV preacher say that God hates gay people and that AIDS was God’s cure for homosexuality. He just couldn’t believe in a God who would hate him. I apologized for what those tv preachers said.
Maybe you can totally relate to my new friend. Someone who claimed to follow Jesus did something or said something that hurt you.
I hope you realize that wasn’t God that was people. Just because someone follows Jesus it doesn’t mean they are instantly perfect and will always respond, act, or think like Jesus.
Don’t base your decision on God by how people act, base your decision on how God acts.
Don’t base your decision to follow Jesus on what his followers say, base it on what Jesus says.
I’m not saying people who follow Jesus should get a free pass, I’m just saying we’re not perfect.
We know the right thing to do, but we don’t always do it. Kind of like knowing the right thing to eat, but not always eating it.
Church was never meant to be a place where all the perfect people go. If you believe that your budding faith won’t last long. You’ll easily become discouraged. Someone will hurt your feelings or post something you don’t like on Facebook and you’ll start equating people with God.
I remember having similar feelings about joining a gym. We recently moved into a new home and I needed to find a gym close to my house. The only problem is that I was convinced the gym closest to my house is where all the skinny people go. I remember thinking, “I’ve got to get skinny before I can even go to the gym.” It didn’t help that all of their promotional material showed ridiculously fit and beautiful people.
When I finally got up the nerve to go inside guess what I found? …lots of chubby people.
One could take lots of chubby people in a gym a couple of ways. One could think… “Obviously this gym doesn’t work or there wouldn’t be so many chubby people on the cardio equipment. If it worked there would be way more skinny people here.”
The other option is to think… “This is a place to help people like me who want to get healthy.”
I would encourage you to look at church like the last option. If you think it’s where are the moral people go, who have life figured out, and never struggle with anything then you don’t understand the idea of church yet.
If you think it’s where all the perfect people hang out you’ll never go. And the minute you see someone not behaving perfectly you’ll quit.
Instead, church consists of people who are little “chubby” trying to be the best version of themselves with God’s help.
Of course, a gym or a church can’t control personal decisions. If they could there would be lots more healthy people.
Don’t let what’s wrong with people keep you from what’s right with God.
What keeps some people from knowing the God I wish they knew isn’t God, it’s imperfect people.
If that’s you, Christmas is the perfect time to get to know the God who is the reason Christmas spirit even exists. If the birth of His son could create such goodwill what could getting to know him do for your life?
Why not check out a Christmas Eve service near you?