To Bring Peace to All People
PEACE WITH GOD
We confess that Jesus lived to raise up the lowly (yesterdays’s blog) and to bring peace to all people. When I first wrote this a few years ago, what I meant was that Jesus came to teach us that we need not live in fear of an Angry God. I was hanging out with a neighbor who had been to prison multiple times, and was really struggling with forgiving himself and making peace with God. When I asked him about what the God he was envisioning was like, his description reminded me of an angry judgmental father.
GOD THE FATHER
I believe that Jesus came to show us the heart and character of God, (the blog from earlier this week.) I remember reading a scholarly article back in Psychology 101 that stated that our perceptions of God are often a transference of the relationship we had with our fathers. It said that when we were young, are parents are like God to us. This made a lot of sense as I heard about my friends troubled relationship with his father. My own relationship with my dad was much different. He affirmed everything I did and I grew into a people pleaser much like my dad. I knew even as a child not to be myself but to try to impress him by doing the things I knew he would praise me for. On the outside I was a model child but on the inside I was still trying to figure out who I was.
WHAT IS AND WHAT COULD BE
The God that Jesus shows us in the Gospels is one who is for us. One who wants to have a deep two way connection with us. When God sees us, God is delighted and actually loves the things that make us most, us. Our uniquenesses, strengths and weaknesses are treasured by God. In contrast, I often believed growing up that God wanted me to be something I wasn’t, something better and more perfect.
One year for lent, I decided to keep track of all my sins during the day, and write them in a journal each night. I don’t think I made it a week before I began resenting both God and myself. After two weeks I had given up and decided that instead I would focus on asking for forgiveness each night. I began to wonder why God would want me to be so perfect and yet created me to be such a sinner.
EASIEST LENT EVER
Many years later when I was between youth ministry jobs, I decided to try the opposite. I made a plan to not go to church, not pray, not read my Bible and not try to be a nicer person. I am sure I was hurting from being fired from a job I loved. When you work for the church it also seems like being fired by God. It was a bit of a weird experience, I admit. I just felt I needed to push God and the trappings of faith away for a while. It was the easiest lenten discipline I had ever tried. The first Sunday back in church was Easter Sunday. It wasn’t a church I belonged to and I don’t really remember much about the service except that when I took communion something changed. I realized that God was still there. I felt a strange and warm sensation that made me tear up and smile at the same time. One word I would use to describe it was peace.
Something changed during those 40 days away and I had a deep hunger to understand and be in relationship with God. I reread the Gospels as well as some more progressive books on Theology. The book that had the greatest impact on me was one written by Brian MacLaren called, A New Kind Of Christian. It filled me with peace and wonder and made me want to tell others about the Joy and peace I had been filled with. For the sake of full disclosure, I still struggle with trying to be a people pleaser.