Small Gods

Life Notes—November 21, 2013 

  “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, not repay us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:8-12

My daughter and I had a ritual at bedtime. It involved me showing how much I loved her. I would begin by holding my thumb and forefinger about an inch apart asking, “Do I love you this much?” She would say, “No, daddy, you love me more than that.” The exercise would continue through several iterations, until I would have my hands spread as far apart as they would go, and I would ask, “Do I love you this much?”  She would giggle and respond, “Yes, daddy, that is how much you love me!” My daughter would not settle for anything less than the maximum amount of love her father could give. No child should have to settle for less.

Some people and churches seem to believe in a very small God. A church in the town I grew up in is obsessed with homosexuality. Their entire ministry revolves around what they believe to be God’s hatred of gays. There is no love or grace in their message. Their small group of members, largely from one family, manages to garner national attention to their vulgar and offensive ministry. Whoever their God is, I do not believe in that God.

I am aware of other churches who believe only a handful of God’s people will enter the kingdom of heaven when they die. Their requirements to be among the elect vary between churches, but their God only accepts certain people. I know some passages in the Bible imply only a few go to heaven. However, taken in the context of the Bible as a whole, and Jesus’ ministry of love and grace for all, I believe those passages are wrongly interpreted. I do not believe in their God of limited acceptance, either.

When God came to earth as a human, in the person of Jesus, God chose to associate with sinners and to criticize the church leaders. Jesus devoted his ministry to the lost and broken, he taught the seekers and doubters, and he forgave the sins of all who asked. Jesus manifested an enormous God, one with enough love for all of us. God is my heavenly parent, and I need a God who loves me more than I will ever need. That is the God I believe in. The others are too small.

Tom will be preaching downtown where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary. Mitch is preaching at the west campus where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.

Come home to church this Sunday. Come to know the greatness of God.

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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