A Bigger God
For a long time, I didn’t want to think about Jesus on the cross.
At times, it was because of the expected response. People would talk about it with these hushed, emotional tones, allowing their eyes to mist over and then stare at you in anticipation of some kind of similar response. My mother was an expert at this. And no response I ever seemed to muster quite lived up to the depth of emotion being experienced by the person in front of me and they always seemed slightly disappointed. Awkward. And this made me defensive and a little angry. Why couldn’t I just experience God in my own way? Who were they to judge? Who brought up the topic of Jesus or the cross anyway?! Uncomfortable.
And then, other times, I didn’t want to think about it because I was going through some big deal personal struggle and the idea of a deity dying thousands of years ago seemed irrelevant to my own pain. It was much more comforting and relatable to think of God as this super powerful, all-around good guy who wanted to help me and care for me and cosmically manipulate bad situations for my benefit. It was much more pleasant to read about him caring for sparrows and providing for ancient peoples than about his suffering and death. And maybe this is what I needed at those times; it sure did help me through. Comforting.
But whether I avoided the image of a Holy savior suffering for my sins because it made me feel awkward or because another image was more comfortable, I still wallowed contentedly in a superficial view of God. A shallow one. Vapid even. God, the jolly Santa Clause in the sky. God, the powerful genie. God my buddy.
My view of God needs to be bigger than this. It needs to encompass the profound and the provocative. It needs to allow for the uncomfortable. As part of a Bible study at my church, the hubby and I are reading a book on “Holy Vocabulary”, or terminology that Christians throw around all the time without always considering the depth of meaning (or even always knowing what it means!) The first study was on the word Holy, and it made me a little uncomfortable. The author laid out, for several pages, how God is not like us, how God should not be treated like a familiar, how God is pretty serious about that. And then I thought about this same God as my buddy and felt uncomfortable. And this is a good thing.
The reality is that God does love me and he is interested in me and my good. He is dedicated to my well being. But it is also reality that he is powerful and perfect and completely “other” from me. That I can no more comprehend Him and all he is than an ant comprehend a man. And this should make his love for me, his interest in me, awesome. Like literally in awe. Because that’s a really big deal. And when I don’t see God as holy or separate or powerful or “other”, I can minimize him. I can make him me-sized. I can make him small. And that makes his love small too. Or at least ordinary. Maybe only slightly more significant than the love of my husband or parents and certainly less tangible.
I think that having a right view of God will change more than just my view of Him. I think it will change my view of me. Of my life. Of my situations. I think I may have been doing myself a disservice by shying away from the uncomfortable thought of Jesus on the cross. Maybe understanding that more means more than I thought. Maybe I don’t think about it enough.