Have you ever become so familiar with something - an idea perhaps - that as good as it may be, it seems to become like the old comfortable bathrobe that you take for granted? A few years ago, I was driving from one community to another listening to one of my all time favorite singer-song writers; Rich Mullins. His music has always encouraged and inspired me, and quite honestly, God has used many of his songs to get me through some pretty major bumps in life. This particular day I was singing and worshipping in full voice, and the next song to play was the iconic “Awesome God.” Now I am sure you can relate... Have you ever played a song so many times you have grown tired of it? You have heard it so many times that if you hear it one more time you’ll scream? Well, that was Awesome God for me at that moment - it had been played to death and every ounce of anointing had been wrung out of it!
So, this particular day, driving in my car I quickly reached over to the car stereo and skipped to the next track. The new track began to play, but I couldn’t hear it as somehow I was aware of a voice in my head, and I think God said this to me that day. He said, “If you really knew how truly awesome I am, you would never grow weary of singing this song.” I was dumb-founded and at that moment I was over-whelmed with what felt like the manifest presence of God. I was deeply convicted, and this conviction led quite naturally to a flow of worship... with the song "Awesome God". As the I sang along to Awesome God I became more overwhelmed and needed to pull over as tears streamed down my face in a great sense of joy and "wow!"
It is a very common thing for human beings to become so familiar with something that not only do we take it for granted and lose sight of the wonder and power contained within it, we sometimes even begin to despise it! The familiarity can breed a kind of contempt just like a prophet has no honor in their home town. One such example is when we talk about the love of God. Too often the response is an immediate push back with “what about truth?” as if some how love and truth are contrary to one another. More often the response is patronizing - as if the love of God is old news, baby's milk - and we want the meat!
In spite of these sentiments, one can see Jesus modeling love on a consistent basis - love is what it is all about! Paul confirms it in the first letter he wrote to the Corinthians. We can know all the great mysteries of heaven and if we don't know love - then who really cares! Without love enlivening the knowledge of these mysteries, it has no power to change us, to heal or reconcile us. The reality is, the Christian faith at its very best is all about love. Divine love is the foolishness that confounds the wise, the weakness that overcomes the strength of sin and death.
“The love of God heals our relationship with God. It allows us to see Him as a loving, involved, caring God who Himself is the source of love with no duplicity." - Becoming Love. Avoiding Common Forms of Insanity
It is this life-transforming reality that needs to shape our faith in real life. Hear me correctly; good theology, good thinking about God leads to healthy actions, but correct theology is not the basis of our salvation and hope. Good thinking, good theology doesn't in itself have the power to set us free - faith in, a living love relationship with Jesus does. Unfortunately, in a post enlightenment, epistemological, western worldview we have defaulted to “right belief” over right relationship. We have allowed our understanding of propositional truth to trump love. We use our ideas of God to effectively build a box in which we decide God can operate within. The reality is we serve a God who has no problem coloring outside the lines!
Consider the parable of the fella who needed to hire workers. He hired people at various times during the day - some may have worked 10 hours and some may have worked 1 hour and yet the employer chose to pay them the same amount regardless of time they worked! To our sensibilities this smacks of injustice. God in His generosity has colored outside the lines! The love of God has been mistakenly relegated to the Sunday School ranks of Christianity when in fact it is the central foundation of all that we say we believe. It is the Good News! If we only knew how amazing, all-consuming, crazy that the love of God is!
I think this happens for a very simple reason. I think we find it too good to believe, so we hold God at bay with our intellectual arguments and our quest to be right. Scripture tells us that God is love and that God is a consuming fire - it is the consuming love of God’s fire that we don’t know how to domesticate. I think the love of God scares us silly! In the all-revealing light of the love of God, we feel truly vulnerable. Naked.
Again, healthy thinking about God produces healthy actions. I am in no way suggesting we turn our minds off, rather I am talking about holding together what might appear to be paradoxical - love and truth. That just as the mystery of Jesus as fully God and fully human can seem paradoxical, I am suggesting we embrace the mystery of TRUTH & LOVE in the person of Jesus Christ and live graciously and creatively within the seeming tension. It means leaving the surety of our propositional truths and walking in the child-like faith, in the sufficiency of Jesus.
I would encourage you to not just engage in information about God but to engage with the person of God in Christ, to experience the truth of who God is - experience His love. This can be as simple as asking. Ask for the grace to know (read experience) the height, breadth and depth of the love of God. Then watch and listen. You will begin to notice a growing awareness of the love of God, and this love will do what only His love can do - transform your life!
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. - Ephesians 3:14-19, NIV