Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Two brief Scripture meditations on the character of God

A couple of weeks ago, when we were in Michigan, Sarita and I had the privilege of meeting a woman named Dru Scott Decker. We walked several miles together around Mackinac Island. As we walked, we talked and Dru told us about how she came to know Jesus.

In the midst of her longer story, Dru mention several Scriptures that particularly caught her eye. They all had to do with the idea that God "gave." That idea was not something she had expected. As she writes in her book Finding More Time in Your Life (p. 16),
The words "give" and "gave" . . . touch[ed] me as I read . . . the Bible:
For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life (John 3:16 TEV).
Before I started reading the Bible, I told a friend over dinner that I had done so many good things I was sure God would be glad to have me as part of His team. My friend, who had never read the Bible either, agreed. But as I kept on reading my . . . Bible each day, and as I prayed, I started to see things from a very different perspective.

I had hoped that at the end of my life there would be a scene with a big set of scales. One side would hold the bad things I had done. The other, the good things. I had hoped that God would look at both sides and say, "More good than bad. Come on in." However, the more I read the Bible, the more I saw this wasn't true. . . .

The spotlight was not on what I had done; it was on what God had done for me and whether I had accepted what He wanted to give me. As I kept on reading, I was surprised by other aspects of the character of God.

I had thought I had to earn God's love, but I read that it is a gift. I do not have to accomplish to earn it (Romans 6:23).
As I thought about what Dru had told Sarita and me, I realized she was pointing out part of the character of God -- a portion of His character that is too easy to forget. But it is a fundamental aspect of His character and something that sets Him apart from all other gods.

On Sunday, our pastor preached a sermon on the building of the tabernacle in the Old Testament. Our church just moved into a new building. This past Sunday was the first regular service to be held in it. And our pastor wanted to emphasize that unless the Award is present, a new building means nothing. And so he had us turn to Exodus 25:8:
And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.
Somehow, the theme and idea of God dwelling in our midst or "being with" us, hit me strongly.

What other God/god has ever expressed such strong desire to be with His/his people?
"Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel."
(which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:23 quoting Isaiah 7:14)
This, too, is something that is fundamental to God's character: a desire for relationship, a desire to "be with" us. The question is, do we want to be with Him?
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