Words cannot describe God. They are merely common symbols, something that we can agree on, but which never convey His true nature, His beauty, creation, love, forgiveness, mercy and mystery. The word God stands in for the mystery of His love and forgiveness, a Father to us all who just loves those He created. It stands in for the personal aspects of our relationship, that we can sense His presence, hear His voice within and see the answers to our prayers. It stands for the One who created this whole universe some 14 billion years ago, every rock and tree, plant and animal, human and dinosaur. Maybe He even created multiple universes as scientists are now speculating. The word God stands for the sense of mothering and fathering with which He cares for us, sets up our lessons in life and loves us. It stands for the Mind of God which could do all this and still be invisible, unique and yet everywhere.
It stands for His presence in all He created, His love for every plant and animal. It stands for His ability to create a mutually-interdependent system that naturally recreates life even as other life dies off. It stands for all the species of plants and animals which He could imagine, the very variety of all in the universe, be they rocks or mountains, volcanos or deserts or living things. The word God has huge shoes to fill and hardly conveys any of who and what God is.
So when we talk about God, using this shorthand of a word, it is no wonder that we are often at odds. Some talk about God the Father, others the Creator, still others Mother/Father God or Jehovah. And that is just the beginning of how differently we can know God, given the variety within all the species of plants and animals and the variety within human beings. And within that variety of races and unique human beings there is only .1% difference between all of us. We look at other races, other nationalities with our eyes and see the huge differences among us. But the DNA tells another story—there is very little difference among all humans–less than one/tenth of one per cent.
We were all created by the same God: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” [Genesis 1:27] And that is the nature of our creation. When will we finally acknowledge that God loves all of us, no matter where we’re from or what race we exemplify or how we do life or any other obvious differences among us, be it race, religion or denomination, education, wealth or poverty or any other difference? When will we admit all human beings into places where we express God’s love? When will we embrace all that God created? When will we live in the mind of Christ? Exemplifying the best of who God is?
And then what kind of world are we creating? One in which we all co-exist pretty peacefully. One in which our obvious differences are interesting, not threatening. One in which we can learn from each other about devotion and love, service and Spirit. One in which we can still be who we are and in which everyone else can be who they are.
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” [Matthew 5:44-5] That is quite of statement of how God treats everyone on this earth—sending his sun and rain to fall equally on us all– whether we are with Him or not. And so, if we are to emulate God in our lives, it is to be our policy, too, towards our fellow human beings, to treat everyone equally whether we are friends or enemies.
“ If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” [Matthew 5:46-48]
Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. That you may be children of your Father in heaven. Strong words for a lasting impact on the world. Otherwise you’re just doing what everyone else in the world is doing. Loving God, serving Him must change us totally. We need to pay more attention to how God treats everyone and do the same.
As to the word perfect in the last sentence, it means more than faithfully following every dot and tittle of the law. It means to be perfect in the sense of wholeness and completeness. [Goodrick & Kohlenberger III, Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance, 2nd Edition, ZondervanPublishingHouse, 1999, Strong’s word #5455, p. 1596] I believe that Jesus is saying that we are to bring our whole selves to God in love, but also bring our whole selves to each other, to every other human being, in love. How else could we become like our Lord?
For Jesus is the exemplar of those who love and serve God: He treated the blind, the lame and rejects of his society. He talked to women! And Samaritans! Romans! And treated them all the same. He offered healing, a new life to all He met. He is the one we are to follow so that we can become like our Father in heaven. Thanks be to God for such an example as He was.
Questions to ponder throughout the week: Is loving and worshipping God enough for me, or am I called to become more and more like Jesus who was so like God? Do I stop way short of Jesus’ example with other people? What barriers in me do I need to face to that I can really follow Jesus?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who not only love and serve Him, but seek to be like Him in all that we do. May we follow the perfect example of Jesus in how to be like God.
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