I have a lot of friends who are not real interested in God. I totally get it. God has been portrayed to them as an angry tyrant, a wrathful, pissy bully who snubs some and blesses others, condemns men, women and children to death, condones murder, establishes rules no one can follow and judges those who break them. He demands worship and praise while threatening lightning bolts of discipline. Frightening. Thundering. Petty in his emotional outbursts. Money hungry. Ugly. Old. Male, in all of the patriarchal, oppressive ways. God the punisher. God the mighty smite-r. Unnecessary God.
If that was the definition of God I had been handed, I would not be interested in him either. Who wants to be with that god? Who could possibly worship that? And yet that’s the impression my friends get, not from Jesus or the Bible but from Christians themselves, people who rally outside of abortion clinics, people who are hoarding weapons, people who are fearful and angry and discriminating and racist and homophobic all in the name of preserving holiness, protecting the god they serve, roiling in fear where faith is supposed to sustain.
But who is this God, really? Who does he say he is, and how does that mesh with what my friends have seen or heard?
God made himself known through Jesus 2,o0o years ago and his true nature has reverberated throughout the world ever since in acts of lovingkindness, sacrifice, generosity, service, and overarching altruism, love and joy and peace that has erupted out of everyday people whose only foundation is God through the Holy Spirit, the One who was given after Jesus walked the earth.
It is that Presence that speaks of the nature of God these days. If you aren’t willing to hunt for God in the Sacred Texts, if you can’t find him in the people who profess to be Christians around you, then look for those who are practicing love, and there you will find God. There you will find the Holy Spirit at work.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
1 John 4:7-8
What does this love look like? How should we define it? Imagine the most ideal version of the traits we value. I respect someone who has patience. God is very patient. I admire people who are kind. God is King of kindness. I love those who put others before themselves. This too, is God. I seek joy and peace and comfort, and God is full of joy, full of peace, full of comfort. I crave beauty. God is the source of all that is beautiful. I desire justice and want to see things made right. This is the pulse of God’s heart as well.
Look for the people who are practicing these things, for they are little Christs. They are misty reflections of the God they serve; they bear the image of God and carry the Holy Spirit within them. They love. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God–not the angry, jealous, spiteful, wrathful god you may have heard about from someone else.
Look for the God of Love today and tomorrow and the next. He is Emmanuel, God With Us, the Holy Spirit, who is the same as Jesus and the same as God the Father, God of Love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
God is patient. God is kind. God does not envy, does not boast, is not proud. God does not dishonor others, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
God is with us. Love is with us. Thank you, God. Thank you, God. Thank you, God.