“We become what we behold.”
Why does any of this even matter?
In short, “we become what we behold”. Our actions are driven by what we truly believe to be true and this is mostly driven by what we focus on; what we think about; what we see with our eyes.
Throughout history, people have been created in the image of their gods. What I mean by this is people act out of what they believe. If you want to know what a person truly believes, look at how they act. It is my opinion this is one of the main reasons why many people become confused about whether salvation is by faith or works. Many see these as disconnected, but in reality, what we do betrays what we truly believe; what we trust; what we have faith in.
Belief controls our lives.
If someone believes God is an angry tyrant who is primarily concerned with behaviour modification, they will work tirelessly to compel people, including themselves, to change their behaviour. (Research shows this has severe health implications as well, which I can recommend further reading for you, if interested).
If a person believes God is primarily concerned with getting humans into heaven and this comes through getting them to say the sinner’s prayer at some point in their life, they will actively work to see people say those simple sentences. This leads to side effects. In this view of God, what we do in life becomes not so important. The focus is on taking people away from this earth and so stewarding the planet and taking care of God’s creation ceases to be important; it’s going to burn anyway!
Or look at it from another angle; if we spend much of our energy protecting what we own and obtaining more and more wealth, we are showing one of our primary concerns is getting ahead financially. What does that say about our god?
The list could go on and on, but the point is the same; we are created in the image of the god we serve. And this is why it is so important that we have a proper image of God.
Dallas Willard says;
“How do we help people love what is lovely? Very simply , we cause them, ask them, help them to place their minds on the lovely thing … If anyone is to love God and have his or her life filled with that love, God in his glorious reality must be brought before the mind and kept there in such a way that the mind takes root and stays fixed there … what simply occupies our mind very largely governs what we do … The deepest revelation of our character is what we choose to dwell on in thought, what constantly occupies our mind.” – Willard, The Divine Conspiracy
So, who is this God and what is he like?
This God is love. This God is lovely. This God is loving.
This God is patient.
This God is kind
This God can be trusted.
This God is the perfect father.
This God is self-sacrificial to the extreme.
This God is everything we are not and yet he has come down and moved into the neighbourhood and fixed his future with ours.
This God is forgiving.
This God invites us into a relationship filled with joy.
This God is good.
This God pursues his creation.
This God keeps no record of wrongs.
Light, life, happy, gracious, and more …
Nothing can separate us from this God’s love — NOTHING!
This is the image of a God who would strip himself of power and become a created being in order to ransom us from the path we have chosen. Who took the sins of the entire world in on himself in order to make a way for us back to him. Who in his dying breath is praying, “Father, forgive them because they have no clue what they are doing right now.”
What a beautiful, lovely, indescribable God!
This is who we must hold before our eyes. This is the lens through which all images of God must pass. This is what we must look to become.;
“The first objective is to bring [people] to the point where they dearly love and constantly delight in that ‘heavenly father’ made real to earth in Jesus and are quite certain there is no ‘catch,’ no limit, to the goodness of his intentions or to his power to carry them out … The acid test for any theology is this: Is the God presented one that can be loved, heart soul, mind and strength? If the thoughtful answer is; ‘ Not really,’ then we need to look elsewhere or deeper … If it fails to set a lovable God – a radiant, happy, friendly, accessible and totally competent being – before ordinary people, we have gone wrong. We should not keep going in the same direction, but turn around and take another road … The key, then, to loving God is to see Jesus.” – Willard, The Divine Conspiracy
And that is why it is so important we take a better, closer look at God throughout the bible. We need to see a good, loving, happy, friendly God in every portion of the bible, or we need to turn around and take a deeper look.
We become what we behold. Let’s strive to behold a God who does not change and who’s character is 100% pure, untarnished, self-sacrificial love
I’d like to end with a long, but beautiful, online posting – taken from Rachel Held Evans (1) – I feel expresses how I feel about the bible having wrestled with it on a number of matters described through this book. It is a post that expresses both the joy and humility I feel whenever I approach the bible. The book that leads us to Christ and fills our hearts with questions. Questions that keep us searching for truth. Questions that lead us to the source of truth. Questions that bring us into community to learn from one another. Questions that keep us humble. Questions that reveal God!
I love the Bible
It is said that after Jacob wrestled with God, he walked with a limp.
So it has been with the Bible and me.
I have wrestled with the Bible, and it has left me with a limp.
But I am glad. I am glad because this limp has slowed me down a bit. It has humbled me. It has forced me to stop running so fast and sure down the path of certainty that I forget to listen, to pay attention, to ask questions, to build altars, to wait.
I have wrestled, and I love the Bible more now than I have ever loved it before. I love it more than when I demanded that it answer all of my questions, more than when I forced it to fit my cultural categories, more than when I tried so desperately to make it all resolve, more than when I pretended like it never bothered me.
I have wrestled with the Bible. I have spoken my fears out loud—about the genocidal conquests in Canaan, about the slaves, about the “untouchables,” about the seven days, about the concubines and sister wives, about the instructions on silence and submission and head coverings. I have lived in the tension, and I live in it still.
I have wrestled with the Bible, and, try as I may. I cannot make it in my own image. I cannot cram it into an adjective, or force it into a blueprint, or fashion it into a weapon to be used against my political and theological enemies. It simply will not be tamed.
But oh, how I have tried to tame it!
Because a blueprint would be easier.
Because a to-do list would be easier.
Because an inspirational desk calendar would be easier.
Because an affirmation of everything I already believe would be easier.
But the Bible is not a blueprint. It isn’t a list of bullet points to be followed or a to-do list to be obeyed. It can’t be crammed into an adjective or forced into a theology.
No, the Bible is a sacred collection of letters and laws, stories and songs, prophecies and proverbs, philosophy and poems, spanning thousands of years and multiple cultures, written by dozens of authors and inspired by God. It is teeming with metaphor and imagery, tension and contrast. It defies our every effort at systemization. It defies our every attempt at mastery. Indeed, it forces us into community—with God and with one another—precisely because it is difficult to understand, precisely because it was never meant to be read alone.
Differences in interpretation should not lead us to question one another’s passion or commitment to Scripture, but rather invite us into conversation with the shared assumption that we are all struggling toward truth, all trying to figure it out.
Those of us who have wrestled know that no one’s interpretation is inerrant. Those of us who have wrestled know we can be wrong.
I love the Bible more now than ever before because I have finally surrendered to God’s stories.
God’s long, strange, beautiful stories.
We asked questions.
God told stories.
We demanded answers.
God told stories.
We argued theology.
God told stories.
And when those stories weren’t enough, when the words themselves would not suffice, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, laughed among us, wept among us, ate among us, told more stories among us, suffered among us, died among us, and rose among us. The Word entered our story and invited us into His.
The Word became flesh and said, “Watch me. Follow me. See how I do it. This is what I desire.”
And the Word loved—
Loved the poor,
Loved the rich,
Loved the sick,
Loved the hungry,
Loved the zealots,
Loved the tax-collectors,
Loved the lepers,
Loved the soldiers,
Loved the foreigners,
Loved the insiders,
Loved the slaves,
Loved the women,
Loved the untouchables,
Loved the religious,
Loved the favored,
Loved the forgotten.
Loved even the enemy.
When words were not enough, the Word took on flesh and became the story.
I love the Bible, but I love it best when I love it for what it is, not what I want it to be…when I live in the tension and walk with the limp—
The limp that slows me down,
The limp that delights my critics,
The limp I wouldn’t change for the world,
The limp that led me to God.
2. A Brief History of God
3. Concentric Circles
4. Jesus & Judaism
5. As It Was vs. As We Are
6. 100% God – 100% Human
7. Revealing God or Revealing Culture? (pt1)
8. Revealing God or Revealing Culture? (pt2)
9. A Gradual Revelation (pt1)
10. A Gradual Revelation (pt2)
11. Checklist Time
12. Wrath + Love = ??
13. The Vindication of God
(1) From: Rachel Held Evans; http://rachelheldevans.com/i-love-the-bible (retrieved October 10, 2012 at 6:47 pm)