It’s been one year since the birth of Unchurched. A whole year. In that time there have been challenges, celebrations, heartaches, times of uncertainty, joy, concern, and learning, lots of learning. Mostly, I have learned about myself. I discovered I write more to myself than to anyone who happens to read these blogs. I have purposed to be far more open to whomever God sends my way, to be an active listener, to look beyond the surface, to not fear change. My goal is full time ministry, whether that will happen or not, I couldn’t say at this point.
What I want most in ministry is to help others to realize how much God loves them, really loves them. Words are not adequate; we all must experience Him, and journey with Him until our life here on earth transitions to the next. I don’t feel competent in any way to deliver that message, and yet God doesn’t require us to be competent at anything; He only requires us to be willing. God doesn’t call the perfect mainly because there aren’t any – not one in the whole universe.
People find God in different ways and in different places. The Bible says He is omnipresent, meaning everywhere at the same time, so we don’t have to be in church to experience Him. We can be sitting on the beach with the ocean waves crashing around us, hiking up a mountain, stargazing on a clear summer evening, or singing along to a favorite song. Whatever that “thing” is that resonates within and turns our thoughts to God, calms our fears, comforts us like being snuggled into a warm blanket; that is where we will find God.
And God doesn’t need for us to “work” to gain His favor and acceptance. Too often that is what it sounds like from the pulpit, perhaps unintentionally so. “I will be acceptable to God when I do enough, tithe enough, have cleaned up my language, and rid my life of ‘sin’, perceived or otherwise”. What I have found is those who subscribe to that kind of “Christianity” have an illusion of Christianity; when life happens the illusion comes crashing down around their ears. They are left with, “why is this happening to me God, haven’t I done enough, given enough, lived perfectly enough for You?” And then anger with God sets in.
Relationship with God is not an “I will scratch your back, you scratch mine” arrangement. God is the Creator; we are the created. He created us to be in relationship with Him, and He gave us a choice to be in relationship or not. He makes the rules, if you will, for relationship, sets the tone – not the other way around.
The Bible is God’s relationship with humanity from beginning to eternity. In human terms, the beginning of the Bible is the birth of man’s relationship with God. Throughout the Bible God interacts with man in ways similar to the way we do with our children as they are growing and maturing. And yet, humans are a dim reflection of God as a parent because we are burdened by imperfection.
Children rebel, rail against the “rules” of the house, throw tantrums and challenge their parents at every turn in an effort to establish their autonomy. And so it is in our relationship with God. Still, He loves us with a fierce, unconditional love. In essence our story is that of the Prodigal Son; the beloved son who left to establish his autonomy, to pursue drugs, sex, rock n’ roll returns, not because of his love for his father, but because he had nowhere else to go and he was hungry. His father welcomed him home anyway without lecturing, without beating him over the head with his misdeeds. He welcomed his son with open arms and threw a party in his honor.
That is the journey each of us is invited to take with a God who loves with a fierce, unconditional love, and the message I want to deliver; when we are done pursuing our version of drugs, sex, rock n’ roll, and return home because we are hungry and have nowhere else to go, our Father will be there to welcome us home with outstretched arms, no questions asked…..