Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Humungus" is our God

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – Jesus in John.

Were these just hollow words? Sometimes I feel like they are.

Melissa and I were looking at an email from one of her young friends: “Do you think, and I know this seems crazy, that the Aztec calendar is right and the world is going to end in Dec. 21, 2012? I mean, I know that I’m safe and will go to be with Jesus if I believe in him. The trouble is I’m not sure I believe in him. My mom says I shouldn’t worry, that God grants belief on his timing and not mine. I’m just not sure that I believe in heaven and will go to hell. I like believe in George Washington as someone in history, but when it comes to Jesus it’s so hard for me to believe. Anyways, let me know what I should do…”

Her theology sounded all too familiar as I read. (Other than the Aztec stuff, which has never really bothered me. Maybe it should, it means we’ll miss Christmas next year!) While humorous, I’ve wrestled with the exact same fear. And still do.
But the truth is my fear has begun to pale as I’ve focused on some key questions that unearth my faulty understanding about all this faith stuff. First, what is belief anyways? And second, how big is God?

When I look at these questions in light of scripture (at least I think it’s in light of scripture) some things begin to go click in my brain. Is belief something I produce or is it something that God produces? The more I read my bible the more I “believe” that belief and faith are things that God grants. And my salvation is not something that rests on the strength of my faith, it rests in the strength of God. Period.

I think the big reason we all focus on our faith, or lack of faith, is that we have no idea how sinful we really are. We have no idea the rescue mission that Christ willingly took on in his life and cross. We have no idea how faithless we really are. If we knew that we were utterly faithless, we would be more surprised by any response in our hearts drawing us towards God. I believe that faith as God produced (or created) longing is a gift, not a response of our autonomous (big word alert) wills. And I believe that the girl above is expressing belief even in her questions.

Second, how big is God really? Is he big enough to understand our lack of belief? Is he big enough to atone for even that? Do we go this far in our belief and he meets us here? Or is this the wrong formula altogether?

I think it’s the wrong formula. God is HUGE! God’s work is thorough and complete. It goes all the way to the bottom of our depravity and fills us all the way to the top with His perfect right standing. Our faith is a magnetic response, longing and hope in Him which he produces. We can’t imagine the depth of our faithlessness but if we did we’d be slack-jawed at the work of God, saving us rebels, and perhaps we’d then have more faith.

And isn’t that just it? We don’t “believe” that we are that bad off. We “believe” that we can “respond” to God. We don’t “believe” that we were enslaved to our lusts. We don’t “believe” that God’s grace could cover or take care of our lack of belief.

But somewhere deep down we all know don’t we? We all know how faithless we really are. But we cover this up because it’s just too painful. We cover it up because we see it as unspiritual and even untrusting.

NO! Jesus said “I am the light of the world.” If we are to believe we need to begin to suspect our beliefs about God and ourselves. Maybe then we wouldn’t worry so much about the role we play and just stand back in amazement at what God has done. Jaws should hit the floor!

Believe in a big God who paid the biggest cost, to gain the biggest victory. Forget your lack of belief and just look at this God. And if you can’t see it by looking at the cross, just pinch yourself and look at the world around you.
You are breathing. Are you breathing because you believe enough? Trees are growing. Are they growing because you believe enough? The world is revolving and rotating around the sun billions of light-years from other galaxies.

Bigness. “Humungus” is our God.

And we think that part of our faith should rest on our shoulders. Call me a Calvinist, but something in that just seems really, really backwards.

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