A Concept… or a Person?

Friday, October 22, 2004

"Behold, I go forward, but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot see Him; on the left hand, where He works, but I cannot behold Him. He turns to the right, but I do not see Him. But He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast in His steps; I have kept His way, and have not fallen away; nor have I gone back from the commandment of His lips; I treasured the words of His mouth more than my portion. But He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? Yea, what His soul desires, He does it. For He fulfilled my lot, and many things like these are with Him."

~Job 23:8-14

Is God a concept or a person?

The deepest faith calls for an unwavering assertion that He is a Person. Yet how often do I look at Him with all of my knowledge and forget that He is a Person, that He can speak and feel and love and cry and give and think? Even the smallest child can see Him as a Person.

To a lot of people--many Christians, even, God has become a mere concept, a deity that we obey, to whom we devote ourselves with our prayers and surrender and offerings we think He desires. We could (if we would dare think it!) find this concept in the idols of old, in the entertainment to which we bow down, in the empty religious rituals of the past, in the unswerving devotion to a cult--to whatever one may believe is true. In the end, we bow only to our own idea of what God should be... never coming face to face with the Person of God, Jesus Christ, who became flesh and died for us.

As long as God is an ideal, a concept, there is no blame for us to shoulder. We may control Him and mold Him into what we in our pride may serve, and find ourselves secure with our "religion." But if God becomes a Person in Jesus Christ, and we see Him breaking the mold of our prideful "sacrifice" to God with His pure and undefiled religion, we have no choice but to shoulder our own blame. For it was our guilt that nailed Him to the Cross. We killed Him. We killed God.

It was our unintentional sacrifice--but God's perfect plan for atonement. Only He could have imagined a way for us to know Him as the Person that He is, holy, sinless, loving, healing, sorrowful, joyful--believable. He created us in His image--how should we not be able to understand Him--except that He is so far beyond us, so much deeper than we could ever be, so wholly other?

He truly is deserving of our worship. If He is a concept, we worship merely our own controllable concept of Him. If He is, indeed, a Person, there is nothing in ourselves that we may praise, for He alone is worthy.

Yesterday morning, I began with God as a concept. I had to take thus and such to Him and just surrender and trust. Yes, I could do this. No, no I really, really couldn't. I was too tired. I haven't been able to pray, haven't been able to force myself to read my Bible, haven't been able to rest or consider myself joyful, or trust.

By the end of the evening, however, God had reminded me that He is a Person. "Will you trust Me?" He asked. "Would you do this for Me?"

He's the only One in the whole universe who can get away with asking me those questions. He reminds me and reminds me that He loves me, and over and over again reminds me that He is good. And then He asks. He does not demand. He is not desiring burnt offerings or sacrifices from me. He wants my heart. And He wants me to give it freely, for though He has chosen me, He is more glorified in my whole-hearted love for Him than in my dutiful "surrender."

I don't know what He is thinking. I cannot control Him. It makes it hard to trust Him, but as I learn to submit, and remember how much He loves me, I find myself more willing to simply love Him back, and to choose what He would have me to do, instead of trying to mesh Him into my concept of what He should be.
He does what He desires, and I learn a quiet praise, and though I do not always understand Him, I know that when I am tried--if I am His work--I really will come forth as gold.


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