Summary: God is head over heels in love with you!
LOSING MY RELIGION
An Introduction to the Sermon Series, “The Misunderstood God**”
Big Idea: God is head over heels in love with you!
In a few minutes we will be reading from 1 Corinthians 13. But, may I ask you a few questions first?
• How many of you feel like, spiritually speaking, you have been a failure most of your Christian life?
• How many of are afraid of “the rapture?”
• How many of you feel like God is disappointed in you?
• How many of you feel like God simply tolerates you … he may “love” you but he doesn’t like you?
Those are uncomfortable questions … but honest questions none-the-less.
It seems to me that we (Jesus’ church) talk about God as if he has a split personality.
• In one breath we say he loves us and will never leave us or forsake us only to, sixty seconds later, talk about how he just might.
• In one breath we talk about how we cannot get to heaven by works and then in the next we talk as if we have to do the right things in order to earn it or keep it.
• When people approach us with “crash and burn” moments in their lives or are vulnerable enough to actually confess doubts, failures, or weaknesses we tell them they need to :
o Pray more
o Read the Bible more
o Give it to God
o Get rid of the secret sin in their life
o Just trust God more
o Go to church more
All of which imply they are at fault and/or lack “commitment.”
These are the responses and answers we were taught – we have been taught them for generations now. We have been taught them for so long we think they are the answers and cannot see that such responses might be a mask to help us avoid really addressing the problem.
And what is the problem you ask? I would suggest the problem is that we have been lied to about God … not in a sinister way but more like the way that a legend grows and grows the more it is shared from generation to generation. For hundreds of years now preachers and teachers have allowed the message of the Gospel to mutate into something dangerous that can actually hurt people rather than help them.
I would suggest that our answers to human problems are often supported by anecdotal and select verses that we (the church) have cherry picked from the Scripture to support our theology rather than a clear, solid, biblical response to human need, pain, failure, and sin.
What I am saying is that we misunderstand God.
In many ways we are like the Pharisees. They had this way of making God complex. They had all the answers for who God was and what God was like but when God was standing in front of them, as close as the nose on their face, they missed him completely. They even thought God was frustrating and shallow, even evil. They warned people to steer clear of God and his teachings. They had a ready answer for whatever question was asked (and some of their answers were “technically right”) but missed the point altogether. While standing nose to nose with them and speaking to them, God (Jesus) said, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:36).
What is the problem? We misunderstand God.
We have engrained this misunderstanding into ourselves with automatic, robotic, and rehearsed answers that we hope will keep someone from looking behind the curtain; and when they do look or question deeply, we hold them in suspicion or censure them rather than them applauding them for seeking truth and longing to be genuinely free.
And what then is the solution? Well, like the Pharisees of old, when we hear the solution some are prone to reject it out-of-hand because it is way too simplistic or … a let-down even. When we hear the answer we tell people to “beware” because it is a “false teaching” or “cheap grace” or “license to sin” or “liberal.”
But the solution is pure truth; and it is very simple; and you already know it. In the midst of all the other stuff we have packed on the Gospel over the years the kernel of truth waits to burst forth and grow, like Jesus’ mustard seed, into a tree that’s branches can support all the weight of all the “birds” that choose to rest upon it.
The solution is right in front of us. Just like my cars keys which were in my pants pocket the whole time I was checking the cars, and bureaus, and key hooks and coat pockets. It is right here with us.