I pondered this question today at Starbucks. I think it’s a good question that we should all ask ourselves and answer every once in a while, just to keep perspective and remember why we do what we do.
I decided there are lots of reasons I love God. Sure, I have intellectual reasons to believe in him (far too complex to explain here, but I have them, and I’ve tested them out against a lot of different ideas, and they seem to hold up satisfactorily), but those don’t make me love him. Those only make me realize his existence and feel dwarfed by his power. I love him because he reached down into my world and showed himself to me.
I had an interesting conversation with one of my friends this afternoon about the existence of God. (On a sidenote, one of the most exhausting endeavors in life is to try to explain why you believe God exists over text messages. I’m not sure if I’ll ever have the courage to try that again.) He’s decided he’s an agnostic after years of being a Christian. I can understand where he’s coming from; everyone wants intellectually satisfying answers to the questions of belief, and as Socrates says, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” so by all means, examine away. Anywho, he asked me this question which provoked some thought on my end: “If God really exists, why does he cover himself up? Why doesn’t he just emerge out of heaven and blow trumpets and make everyone go to heaven, since he allegedly wants that?” I decided my answer is similar to that of the question, “Why doesn’t God give me a roadmap of my life, step by step, so I don’t mess up?” In my opinion, it’s because he desires a relationship. Sure, he could put on a display and send the whole world into terror and chaos. But is that what he wants? No! He wants to come down into every person’s world, on an individual level. If he gave us a map, we’d never have to ask him for directions. We wouldn’t need a relationship. And as we all know, we’re selfish human beings, and as much as we like to think we’d spend time with him anyway, I think the biggest reason we spend time with God is because we realize we need him. That’s what drives me, anyway. I think he did that on purpose.
That’s one of the things I love about God: he reaches down into our worlds. He’s a personal, one-to-one God.
The next question my friend had for me was this: “What about when God doesn’t reach into people’s lives?” My answer is this: I believe he does. “But what if he hasn’t?” Then wait. The story’s not over. All I can go off is that God sticks to his word. And his word is this: “God bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all” (Rom. 11:32). I’m pretty sure “all” means “all.” I believe God has mercy on every person, even those who never hear about Jesus, or even those who hear about him but whose experience is tainted by the Christians they heard it from. “Sin is not taken into account when there is no law” (Rom. 3:13b). “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim to see, your guilt remains” (John 9:41). Therefore, those who live apart from the law are not judged by it–they are judged by their consciences, which may either accuse or defend them (Rom. 21:5). And then, Jesus tells the Pharisees that, because they contradict his word and claim to know righteousness, they are condemned. I believe there are lots of people in this world whom God will have mercy on, even if we don’t believe they are heaven-bound. This is one of the many things I love about God: his grace is unfathomable. And it’s outside the box. Yes, Jesus is the only way, but we don’t know all the ways in which Jesus reveals himself to people. What if he comes in dreams? What if he visits a person just before he dies, and the person accepts him? God loves humanity, and therefore, I believe he does everything he can to redeem it. That’s evidenced by his Son’s sacrifice, and I believe his relentless grace pursues us in other ways as well.
My God is out of the box, just like I am. I don’t like people putting legalism on me or telling me I have to fit inside a definition in order to be a Christian. I answer to God alone, and he is the one who convicts me and shows me the right way to live. He has shown me freedom, both from condemnation AND sin, through his great kindness, and my heart loves him for it.
I could go on, but you get the idea. I basically love God. A lot. Even though I’m not perfect, and I never will be, he loves me. It’s great. Remind yourself this week of all the reasons why you love him–and if you’ve forgotten (as we are apt to do!), ask him to remind you. I think he will. Have a blessed week!