God's Character

Saturday 15 September 2007

I'm becoming more convinced that if we see God as he really is - and he is committed to this happening - then we will fall in love with him, and we will be changed. This is not only because he is beautiful, but because he is amazing. And even further, it is because of the way he works. He works because he fits the gaping, jagged, God-shaped vacuum we all have.

The Hufford book is still having an impact on me. I don't nearly agree with everything he says - but then, neither do I have to. Chewing the meat and spitting out the bones is always a necessary thing to do when you're reading things written by other fallibles like yourself. But gee, a lot of what he says does hit home.

Last night I was reading about how God doesn't keep a record of wrongs. Now, this is something that has always bothered me, and last night I got a bit more clarity on it. It seems, when reading the Bible, that there are two interpretations about God's record keeping. There are all those
verses in both Old and New Testaments which seem to point to him being more than willing to forget our pasts. This one has been floating around in my head ever since, and I woke up with it this morning:

If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared” (Psalm 130:3-4).

"As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

That first psalm verse above is so true - who can stand knowing that God is collecting all of our stuff and is going to shove it all back in our faces at the Last Judgment? Reading what Hufford was talking about last night, I have come to the conclusion that this certainly mustn't be how it is, because we can't live like that. For us to live closely and relationally as a child with their Papa, to do so with a being who is constantly hanging our past shit over our heads is living with a practitioner of child abuse, not a God of Lurve. It cannot be true because the way we humans are made up, if we live defined by our pasts we don't grow. I'll quote this little bit here because it rang true to me and gives me cause to think:

"The truth about you has nothing to do with what you have done or where you have been. God rejoices in the truth about you because it is truly something to rejoice about! One of the greatest problems with most people is that they honestly believe that they know the truth about themselves. What they think is the truth is really not truth at all. Most Christians confuse "the facts of their life" with "the truth about themselves." This is one of the greatest causes of spiritual death that the Christian world has ever seen. The two are as far apart as the east is from the west. The facts of our life have nothing to do with the truth about us. God's eyes are fixed on the truth, and He rejoices in it because it's beautiful.

"God is not bound by time and space. He knows our future as well as our present. When He looks at us, He calls us by what He sees in our future, not by what we see now. With God, the future is as solid and real as we see the present. When He looks at us, it's important to know that He is not "hopeful" for what we COULD become, but He knows for a fact what we WILL become. This is the truth that God rejoices in! This is the name He calls us by and this is the only way He sees us.

"Let go of what you believe to be the truth about yourself and open your heart to the things you have been dreaming that you would some day become. These dreams were put in your heart by God, Himself. You must familiarize yourself with them because the truth about you exists deep in the heart of the visions God gives you. Most people reject the vision God has given them because they don't feel they deserve it. This is not only spiritual suicide but it's an outright rejection of truth. God's vision that He has given you is the truth about you. Embrace it, and call yourself by that name because that's the name He calls you."

The reason why I love this is because I have spent so long living the other way, of being defined by my past, of labelling myself for it, and especially trying to live the Christian life and get close to God, all the while feeling this heavy weight and burden of my past hanging over me. I would get conflicting messages. People would read quotes like the one above and they would resonate in me - I would think, this is how Love behaves, surely! We all experience it ourselves with those we love, in our finer moments, when we are so willing to forgive them because we want them to be free.

But then in a hundred other ways the Christian community would often demonstrate the complete opposite. And of course, being the adventurous soul that I (sometimes) am, I had delved quite a few times into the book of Revelation, terrifying though it was (this was back in my more literal days when I believed that what was described in that book was a looming future event about to catastrophise my life next Thursday - living my life by Jesus' 'do not fear' maxim seemed an impossibility back then). I would think about the scene where the Books are being opened in heaven. I would think about how there were certain things in my life which I had never told a
soul, being too ashamed - and about how, apparently, because "all things will be laid bare", that God would be happy for my stuff to be spread abroad willy nilly, with little concern for my own boundaries or the fact that this felt like violation of the highest order. That Book would be open and there would be a record of every little thing I've ever done.

But I'm beginning to wonder, if there really is some literal time in the future when that event will occur, that the Book won't be open and it will be empty and sparkling, pristine. That's the only way that makes sense, it's the only thing that would make me bow, it's the only way that I can feel safe enough to get close enough to God to allow him to change me, and it's the only way a decent God would behave if he was committed to treating his children with decency and honour. And it's the only way he can behave if Jesus really did take all the sins of the world onto Himself - He took them because we can't live with them. Now that's something to get down on your knees about :)

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