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Trusting a Dangerous God

Trusting a Dangerous God

If it’s true that how you think defines who you are, then what you think about God is the most important question of your life.

All life on earth was created by God and for God, and for the most part everyone is wrestling with what they think about God. For some He’s a tyrant, and they reject Him as unworthy of their love. For others He’s a genie, and when He doesn’t give them what they want, they either pout or lose their secure footing. Some view God as a kind of force that can be found in everything — not a personal being, mind you, but more like a providential mist that isn’t super interested in rules or details but only in the big picture of things. Some view God as a puppet master, causing all the good and all the bad in the world. They are elated when good things happen but devastated when tragedy strikes. Others view Him as a figment of people’s imaginations.

What you think about God is who God is to you, and it affects every aspect of your life. It’s your spiritual reality, even if it may be entirely wrong.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. This verse fascinates me because it is so direct. I think a lot of people miss this and they replace faith with religious activity. We often think that the more we do for God, the better we are with Him. If I can just do my devotions on a more regular basis, or if I can just soak in His presence more, or if I can serve more at my church, then I know that will please Him. Well, I’m sure He will find anything you do for Him pleasing, but don’t forget the one thing you must have if that is your goal. You have to have faith. But what exactly is faith?

The definition is pretty straightforward. Merriam-Webster says faith is “complete trust.” So then, how much trust must we have in God for it to qualify as faith? Jesus said if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can see great things. So I guess even the tiniest amount of trust in God counts for something. But I would like to make the argument that if our goal in life is to please God, then the main thing we should be focusing on is our faith level. If it’s impossible to please God without trusting Him, then wouldn’t it make sense that the more we learn to trust Him, the more pleasing we are to Him?

Why does it need to be this way? Why is God so preoccupied with our faith in Him? Why is it such a big deal?

When Saul screws up big time and basically loses his kingship (1 Samuel 15), he doesn’t lose everything because he kills someone or commits adultery (shoot, David did both those things). He loses it all because he has no faith in God and this lack of faith leads to disobedience. The Lord told Saul to go bust up a town named Amalek, and he was to spare no one — not even the animals — in this mission. This was divine retribution for stuff Amalek had done to Israel, so Saul heads out on a military sortie. He does what he’s told — mostly. Saul takes the king of Amalek, Agag, hostage, and keeps a bunch of the best animals to offer as a sacrifice to God. It seems like Saul has good intentions, but unfortunately it’s not what God asked him to do.

The prophet Samuel rolls in, and Saul is feeling pretty good about himself. He has even built a little monument to himself to mark the occasion, like an idiot. Saul proudly tells Samuel that he’s done what God asked him to do. Then Samuel drops the hammer:

What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? — 1 Samuel 15:14 NKJV

Saul tries to put a nice spin on it, but Samuel wants none of it.

Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.
— 1 Samuel 15:22-23 NKJV

Dang. Saul is toast. And all because he didn’t obey the voice of the Lord. He didn’t trust God’s word. He didn’t have faith but did what seemed right in his own eyes. Lesson #1: If you want God, you’ve got to take Him on His terms.

We know faith is a big deal to God, if not the biggest, but again I ask, why? While I realize there are three currencies in God’s kingdom (faith, hope, and love) and 1 Corinthians 13 tells us plainly that the greatest of these is love, we still can’t avoid the utter importance of faith as explained in Hebrews 11:6, particularly when it comes to pleasing God. I would argue that while it’s impossible to please God without faith, if your faith isn’t grounded in love, the whole thing kind of falls apart. Hope then is the glue that holds them all together. But for our purposes, I want to focus on this slippery little thing called faith, since the battleground we’re dealing with is the mind, and faith is very much a mind thing.

A frustration that has never left me is the fact that God is invisible. When He asked me to make films about Him, my first thought was, Uh, God, You do realize that film is a visual medium and You’re, well, not. Figuring out new ways to make an invisible God visible is the biggest hurdle I have in making my movies. It’s like trying to film air. The only way you can even tell it’s there is when the wind blows. So I have to try to find situations where God’s wind is blowing on people.

In my book Finding God in the Bible, I talk at length about “God’s invisibility cloak.” Maybe it’s because I’m a filmmaker that I obsess about God’s invisibility so much, but I think it’s a thing for a lot of other people too. I mean, let’s face it, if you’re a Christian, you literally believe in an invisible man. As in, an invisible man is your best friend. No wonder the world thinks we’re nuts sometimes.

When I examined the invisibility problem, I found a possible explanation. There are two wildly different instances of God “showing” Himself to people in Scripture, and both can teach us a lot about God’s nature.

The first is found in Exodus 33. Moses has gone up Mount Sinai and is hanging out with God. The two friends are talking about Israel, with Moses reminding the Lord that these are His people after all, so, you know, don’t smite them, please. Yes, they’re a dysfunctional tribe, but they’re His dysfunctional tribe. God shows great affection for Moses, saying,

You have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name. — Exodus 33:17 NRSV

So Moses realizes he’s holding the golden ticket, and he just goes for broke and asks to see God’s full glory. What a request! Shockingly, God decides to grant his request, but with the caveat that Moses only be able to look upon His back. If he looked at God’s face, he’d die. Like, Raiders of the Lost Ark face-melting die. So God puts Moses in a cave and passes by, allowing Moses to see His full goodness. Man, I’m not jealous of much, but this one is off-the-charts cool.

After this little love fest, God makes new tablets for Moses to take to the people with His commandments, and Moses scurries down the mountain. But he doesn’t realize that because he just literally saw God, his face is now glowing. Everyone freaks out when they see Moses, and he has to wear a veil because the people simply cannot deal. Understand what’s going on here — the people are freaking out at the aftereffect of someone else seeing God. Just imagine what would have happened if they’d seen Him with their own eyes!

There will come a point in time when the entire world will see Him in His fullness with their own eyes. God minced no words when He said:

By Myself I have sworn, My mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: before Me every knee will bow; by Me every tongue will swear. They will say of Me, ‘In the Lord alone are deliverance and strength.’ All who have raged against Him
will come to Him and be put to shame.
— Isaiah 45:23-24 NIV

God is not messing around here, and He wants you to realize it. He swears by Himself (there is nothing higher) that what He’s about to say will happen. And why is He so sure that this is going to happen, especially considering how horribly messed up the world is these days? Are we Christians suddenly going to become incredible witnesses for Him? That’s highly doubtful. No, I think there’s only one way for this event to happen, and it’s going to come at the grand finale of life as we know it on earth. Whenever that “date and time that only the Father knows” comes, that will be the moment when God throws off His invisibility cloak and the whole world will see Him for who He truly is. At that moment, when He shows Himself clearly in all His goodness and glory, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is indeed Lord of all.

But there’s a funny little thing about love that most people forget.

Love must be a choice. Its very nature demands freedom, and all love comes with the risk of rejection. It’s why God gave man free will. You cannot have true love without the possibility of rejection.

It’s that possibility of rejection that all of us have faced at one time or another.

I have vivid memories of hiding in my parents’ bathroom at age fifteen, staring at the beige phone I’d pulled in with me, trying to will myself to call a girl and ask her to go to the skating rink with me. But calling meant I’d have to admit I liked her and, good Lord, what if she said she didn’t like me back? I’d sit and stare at that phone, but the fear of rejection was simply too great. I couldn’t do it.

Yet God does it over and over and over again. He puts Himself out there, asking us to choose Him, to love Him like He loves us. And when we reject Him and His kindness for our own selfish desires, He simply looks for another opportunity to prove His love and grace once again. For many, it will be a lifetime pursuit, and they will never choose Him, usually because they never fully understand how wonderful He is. They look at His other kids and think their dysfunction is somehow His dysfunction. But we are all in need of a Savior, even when we’ve chosen Him. The war rages on around us, and it won’t ever stop.

You see, God cannot reveal Himself to us physically, because if He were to do that our choice to love Him would cease to be a choice at all. Every knee would bow because no matter what you do or don’t believe, if you were to see Him for who He is, not through the filters of our brokenness, but truly as He is — He’d be utterly irresistible. When that day comes, for those who have chosen to love Him when it was most difficult, our love will be made complete. For those who haven’t, it will be a day filled with the greatest regret of their lives.

Excerpted with permission from Chasing a God You Don’t Want to Catch by Darren Wilson, copyright Darren Wilson.

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Your Turn

Are you trusting Him? What we think about Him matters! It matters more than anything else and directs the course of every step of our lives. Take a step of faith. Take a step of love. Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily