I couldn’t stop thinking about one tangent comment from Sunday’s post regarding divisiveness: It’s “not about how the contemporary American church is obviously often an imperfect reflection of who God is.”
I realize that many will quickly quip how we can discern in totality who God is and what he wants from his people. That’s an excellent question and an even greater pursuit. It’s also a question that we probably can’t answer in entirety. Yet the lack of answering in entirety should not dissuade us from attempting to answer. Often the greatest growth comes simply through the asking.
I believe wholeheartedly, no less, that the contemporary American church is often an imperfect reflection. So are the European churches. Asian. African. Churches and people… we are each imperfect. And we are incapable of being pure substitutes for divine reality.
God is not reflected well by those who embrace terrorism. For those who believe that the killing of the infidel somehow merits eternal reward, such is inconsistent with the Creator of the world — the Creator, thus, too, of the people being mercilessly destroyed.
God is not reflected well by those who have physically or sexually abused others within the church. For those who have gut-wrenchingly misused the intimacy and respect forded by church authority, especially with young men and women, such is inconsistent with the One who calls us to respect all life.
God is not reflected well by those who in the name of God shout hatred…
… nor by those who turn a blind eye to one side so they can remain focused on the other…
… nor by those who believe either the Republican or Democrat parties are all good (after all, they, too, were created by imperfect people)…
God is not reflected well by those who are arrogant… compassionless… unforgiving… and self-focused.
No, this idea that we need to spend so much time focusing on self is not representative of who God is. My sense is God is much more humble than any of us could ever be.
The challenge, therefore, with “all of the above” lies within how we process what we see. The watching world often forgets that the church is imperfect.. that all of God’s people are imperfect… that you and me are imperfect. And in that forgetting we still make conclusions as to who God is and what he wants from us because we say, “I don’t want to be like that!” “I don’t want anything to do with that!” But yet, those conclusions are based upon imperfection.
Nowhere, friends, is it logical to derive conclusive, impassioned opinion based on what’s imperfect — or perhaps better said, based on what may be inaccurate. Imperfect people — and thus inaccurate representations — are inherently incapable of modeling for us always and consistently who the Creator of the world actually is.
So what are we to do?
One, we must refrain from defining who God is based on so much emotion and individual experience. How we feel doesn’t always necessarily line up with what is good and true.
Two, we must pursue God. If there is a God out there who wants something from his creation, then I want to figure that out. I’m sensing something along the lines of, “If he loves me and created me, then he probably wants me to love him back.” Seems like a wise place to start.
And three, we must keep asking questions… even the tough ones.
Often the greatest growth comes simply through the asking.