God Box

I have discovered, as I have grown in my walk with God, that a lot of the ideas I used to have about God were wrong. I think we have a natural tendency to compare God to people in our lives which is why we are often left with a distorted view of God. Comparing God with imperfect people is bound to leave us confused. What tends to happen is that we start labeling God with all these wrong ideas and form what I call a God box.  My God box was labeled with things like "God is a judge" and "God makes rules". I pictured God sitting in that box with a little "love-o-meter" that moved from loves a little to loves a lot based on my words and deeds. Probably, if we compared all of our God boxes we would find that they all have a common label on them. "God's love is conditional". From that one idea comes all the rest of our misconceptions.

Expectation is another common label we put on those boxes. I always carried the uncomfortable feeling around that God had his arms folded and was looking down at me shaking his head because I just wasn't measuring up. It all sounds so crazy to me now, but I really did see God this way. I developed a list of do's and don't's that I felt defined my relationship with God. While righteousness should be desired by anyone walking with God, we should never mix up God's desire for us to be righteous with his love for us. Just because we know right from wrong does not mean we will always choose right and God knows that.

This is where Jesus comes in...

By the time Jesus showed up on the scene, I would say everyone was carrying around a God box. Life was all about the expectations, the judgement, the rules. There is a particular story in the Bible where Jesus challenges all of our "God box theories". A crowd had gathered and was ready to stone a woman for her adultery when one of them asks Jesus what he thinks should be done. Jesus calmly kneels and draws in the sand. Then, he simply asks the person without sin to cast the first stone. It doesn't take long for stones to start dropping because, well, when Jesus put it like that it did seem crazy for any of them to think they had the right to judge. What I love about this story is that Jesus, the only one in the crowd who DID have the right to cast a stone did not even pick one up. He simply picks her up out of the dirt and says "where are your accusers?". The answer, there were none. God himself was standing beside this woman who had sinned and yet he is saying, there is no one here to accuse you. How could a God of conditional love look that woman in the eye, see all her shame exposed and choose not to condemn her? Well, the obvious truth is that God's love is not conditional. His love is not based on expectation. His love is pure, everlasting and unconditional.

God has been wanting to show me his unconditional, immeasurable love my whole life. I just had to give him permission to do so. What I am finding that is so fascinating about this new way of thinking is that it doesn't bother me to think of God as my judge. He is my judge, the only judge, but I am not afraid of him. Why? Well, because he has always known the deepest secrets of my heart and has seen all my fault exposed and yet he tells me he loves me completely. Yes, there are rules to live by but they are not the foundation of my relationship with Him. They are a by-product. The foundation is his love. Unconditionally, purely devoted love. This love stirs in me a desire to be righteous, to be like him. That is the power of His love.

So, what does your God box look like? What labels are on it? Maybe you see him the way I did. I challenge you to open that box and let him out! He wants to be so much more than what we perceive. He wants to fill us with unconditional love. Healing comes from this love. Redemption comes from this love. God is just and righteous and he desires those things for his children but he loves each of us no matter what. The cross is our proof of that. When we don't know where to start we can start with that one thing...love. Let God show you just how much he loves you. He wants to. Now, instead of seeing him with his arms folded and shaking his head at me, I see him with his arms open very wide, a smile on his face, and maybe even a few tears in his eyes because he loves me so. He loves us, oh, how he loves us....

"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you , he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

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