Have you ever met people who question your beliefs, assume that you can’t possibly really believe in God because of your “lifestyle,” or, worse, imply or declare without reservation that, “God couldn’t — wouldn’t — love you because …”????
Silly questions, huh?
I believe what they’re saying, in effect, is that their God isn’t big enough to include people like me.
Someone I know, a Seventh Day Adventist, had emailed me Bible verses, all the “usual suspects” plus Genesis 1:27 (“So God created man in his image – male and female he created them.”) and Genesis 2:24 (“For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife.”).
Apart from not agreeing with the translation, I found myself getting a bit irritated by her insistence on setting me straight.
After asking why she had felt compelled to send me these Scriptures and being told that she and her religion disagreed about the ability of two men to live together, truly love each other and be blessed by God, I gently made my case:
“You know, I grew up Jewish,” I began, relating to her own hard-and-fast beliefs about worshiping on Saturdays and keeping kosher in diet.
“Be that as it may,” I continued, “the God I believe in is less concerned about the letters of the law you’re so focused on, than on us loving our neighbors, whosoever they may be.”
Whosoever they may be … because God’s grace is unconditional.
I certainly didn’t mean to pick on Seventh Day Adventists—every religion, every denomination, every Bible believer I know tends to place limits on what’s acceptable to God and what’s not.
~The Bible, the King James version at that, is literally the infallible word of God.
~Creeds – Nicene, Apostles’ or otherwise – accurately affirm and testify to the veracity of our beliefs.
~We must use wine/not grape juice for communion … or, no: we must use grape juice/not wine.
~You’re not “saved” unless you’ve answered an altar call, been baptized … and filled by the Holy Spirit—as evidenced by speaking in tongues.
~Some people are predestined to be “saved” … God purposely excludes others. Or, God loves us unconditionally vs. God loves us when or if …
~If you believe the Bible and faithfully confess what it says, but an expected blessing doesn’t come to you, the problem must be your own lack of faith.
~Jesus will return for his “second coming” either before, during, or after the Great Tribulation. When, specifically, is the stuff of denominational division.
Because we’re human and finite, all of us tend to limit God and make God smaller to ourselves as well as to others.
We need to be cautious about attempting to capture and control the parameters by which we define God.
The Holy One of Israel is Almighty and always has had a way of eluding human attempts to be restricted, restrained, or retained.
When all is said and done, our ‘gods’ are too small; God is bigger than our beliefs.
So, rather than argue or debate the religious fundamentalists over their select agenda of Bible verses and interpretations, I now simply say to them:
“My God is bigger – and better – than that!”
agreed!! and yet, on many cold and dreary nights, Jesus does sleep in cardboard boxes in many back alleys and above steam grates.
Reminds me of the title of JB Phillips’ book, Your God is Too Small.
Our rector said in his sermon this week that if our God is no larger than our opinions, then we are doomed.
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