I remember in Sunday School (I still smell the wooden furniture, the snacks, the churchy smell) when our instructor asked us to draw a picture of what we thought God looked like.
One drew a rose.
One drew an eagle.
One drew what looked to be a distant cousin of The Hulk.
I can’t remember for the life of me what I drew, and that’s probably because I couldn’t decide.
I never attended a church where an overcritical, jerkface God was preached from the pulpit about hellfire and damnation if you didn’t walk the finest of lines.
I knew that the church was supposed to be love and good deeds and singing and potlucks and sharing. In my childhood reality, that was my depiction.
And I guess at that bracket, it was sustainable.
So when I heard about a book that conservative people were raging against, how the woman who wrote it was an “abomination”, blah blah blah, I immediately went to Amazon, looked it up, and clicked buy it now.
There’s an inner don’t you dare tell me what I can and can’t read in all of us.
The difference is, I don’t really waste time with crap writing like Fifty Shades or whatever seems to be on some popular list or on Reese Witherspoon’s kindle. I like the good stuff. The stuff that makes me feel and relates back to something palpable and something that actually means something.
The cardboard box came in the mail, and I ripped it open and looked at the cover and set it aside. I was already reading several books all at once probably because I am a bit crazy.
I picked it up today.
And I could not put it down.
The author gets into the meaning of what Jesus actually stood for, differing from what the church has made Him to be. And yeah, sadly, there is a difference.
She challenges, she tears open her own wounds, she talks openly and with so much love the words were ready to be picked off of a stem.
As I put it down today, it put me back in that Sunday school classroom, asking us to draw a picture of what God looks like.
The book supported my inconclusiveness because of this: He evolves daily.
He is the poor.
He is the sick.
He is the transgender.
He is the drunk.
He is the sober.
He is the addict.
He is the gay.
He is the transgender.
He is the molested.
He is the condemned.
He is the forgotten.
He is the least of these.
And that shouldn’t be a “snowflake” thing to say.
It should be a Christian thing to say.
We all knowing going to church isn’t the way to be a likeness of God.
But do we know that taking the church with us in a way that includes, not condemns, but exonerates, not persecutes is the way to the likeness of God?
I think that’s why Jesus was sent to Earth.
Because guess what.
We are still learning.
Still muddling through the humanness of judgment.
So what is God…not?
God isn’t critical, which is so hard for me to wrap my head around. I know what it’s like for others to be so critical of me that I cannot breathe or even think for myself. And in a phrase, it downright sucks. I truly don’t believe I began living until I was twenty seven years old, when I finally began the process of letting go of all of the critical crap. People still remind me to not be so hard on myself, but I’m telling you-judgment is a tick-judgment is a tattoo-judgment is a slippery creature that doesn’t like to let go. It sticks. It’s a process. It’s devastatingly hard to let go of.
God isn’t a jerk. I see so many memes about loving the sinner and hating the sin. I cannot think of anything being more judgmental or hurtful (well…besides a couple of things). Agreeing to disagree doesn’t necessarily work anymore either. We’ve just got to come to a better agreement to let the hateful image slither back to its rightful underground lair and accept the love, the grace, the compassion that was nailed to that cross-FOR ALL OF US.
It’s also amazing to me how “clearly” the Bible states that baking a cake for a gay couple’s wedding is so blasphemous but those same judgers seemed to have skipped over those pages about cussing, drinking, and premarital sex. Just saying.
So what DOES God look like?
God is forgiveness.
God is love.
God is light.
God is good.
God is a good, good Father.
It’s who He is, and we are His beloved.
Anything more and we have overcomplicated the simplicity of Jesus’ message.
To me, that’s the nastiest sin of all-to use the Bible to execute judgment.
The difference between Jesus and us is this: we use Scripture to determine what love means. He uses love to determine what Scripture means.
Don’t know the difference?
I’m not sure any of us do.
But we can certainly work towards our goal of figuring it out.
And becoming more in the image of God.Read More