Mamas & God

The Bible says that “…through everything God made, [we] can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature.” Now while I know that this verse may primarily be talking about the heavens, earth, celestial bodies and so on, I believe the truth extends into family relationships as well. I believe that because God is so holy, so awesome and unlike anything we can imagine, his creation (all of it) is designed to give us tangible expressions of who he is. That brings me to moms. I think there’s an awful lot we can learn about God from our moms, but I’ll just mention a few things that come immediately to mind.

First of all there is our birth- I didn’t give birth to myself. My mother carried me inside her own body, nurtured me, protected me and eventually gave birth to me. Before I was ever born she loved me. Without having seen me she desired me. The fact of the matter is that without her I wouldn’t even be here. Can you catch a glimpse of God in that?

How about the way our moms care for us? I remember my mom going without so that my brother and I didn’t have to. She made sure we were fed and clothed. Before I was old enough to say, “Thank you Mom. I love you.” she cared for me. When I got hurt or sick- Mama! If ever I was teased by other kids and made to feel inferior- Mama! When I was scared- Mama! When I wanted things that weren’t good for me- Mama! Does that remind you of Someone else?

Oh, we can’t forget the way Mama loves! “Nobody will ever love you like your mama boy.” God knows the heartache and pain I brought to my mom. The life I lived broke her heart, made her worry and took me away from her at times. But she always forgave, she always believed, she never gave up! When I hated myself she was somehow able to make me feel worth loving. She told me the truth, even when I didn’t want to hear it. But even when that truth was hard, it was always wrapped up in love. She let me go my own way when she knew it would bring me pain. But in her wisdom she understood that I had to learn for myself. No matter what I did she was always willing to take me back. It was as simple as saying, “Mom.” Do you see God’s love?

Mom, I love you. Thanks for showing me, just by being you, the glory of God.

 

 

Immanent Love: When God Assumed

One of the things that had the greatest impact on me during my time in seminary is not some great theological truth gleaned from one of the countless books we had to read, but rather part of a prayer one of my professors (Dr.G!!) prayed at the beginning of class one evening. He was praying along and then he said, “And Father, I thank you that you decided that you didn’t want to be God without us.” BOMBSHELL!! I had never heard someone say anything like that before. Honestly, I was a little taken back. There was a part of me that thought that perhaps he shouldn’t have said that. For some reason that part of his prayer kind of offended me a little.  It seemed wrong somehow. Now, looking back, I can see that it was merely my Western religious paradigm that had been shaken to its core by a simple prayer.

 We good, Protestant Christians of the West speak of God’s love, but many of us (if we are honest) see God as some kind of egotistical tyrant  who can barely stand the thought of us and puts up with us only because we forced him to send Jesus to pay for our sins. Our understanding of God centers on the wrath of God and sin. Our God is a God far removed from his creation (transcendence), and the thought of his actually wanting to be near us (immanence) offends us somehow. We are taught that even after we come to Christ, we are still filthy, rotten to the core. And really if you get right down to it, the part about God being your Father is just theological mumbo jumbo – you best just be concerned with being good!! If the truth were told, it is fear and not love that binds many of us to God.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not minimizing our sin problem. We’ve all got one, and it brings about death, separation from God. But that’s precisely the point. Because God loves us so much, the Father sent the Son to redeem us and make it possible for us to partake in the eternal life that is in God. We brought sin and death into the world, our loving God provided the way back to Life and fellowship through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. God does not hate you, but loves you and desires to reveal himself to you. You were created for him. The Triune God who is eternally holy, existing as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, perfect and in need of nothing, because of love desired to have a people who would be indwelt by his Spirit and conformed into the image of the Son. He may have not needed us, but hallelujah; he wanted us!! He wanted  you!!

Our theology has evolved into an extremely lopsided thing. We’ve stressed the transcendence of God and our own sinfulness at the expense of the immanence of God and his love. We emphasize the judiciary aspects of salvation and have lost sight of the fact that the One we fear as judge is the same One who created and desires us. My friend, the cross is not the image of a horrible God that demands blood in order to satisfy his insatiable wrath, but rather a demonstration of a God who assumed the brokenness of his creation in order to satisfy his  insatiable love.