From the Greatness of God Toward a Christlife

My girls and my brother's girls encountering the Cloud Gate,
the Chicago Bean, for the first time on their first trip to Chicago.

Kids being born.
An amazing sunset.
A majestic waterfall.
A towering mountain.

Each an opportunity to encounter God.

Sometimes people who live in the mountain become immune to the majesty right outside their window. Yet when those of us from the plains go and see the mountain, it's incredible. 

I remember taking Isaac to Detroit for the first time when he was younger, he was amazed with the city. He had seen it for the first time. But for someone who lives in Detroit, it is just another day in the city.  

When it comes to God, we live our ordinary lives with extraordinary God-things around us all the time.  And the extraordinary begins to be missed. And we forget the greatness of God because we are surrounded by it. God doesn't want to be confined to just the extraordinary things like sunsets, waterfall, and the birth of children. He wants to be part of your life in the ordinary things.

God wants to change the world. He grabs people's attention through wonderful, and sometimes tragic, things, but it is our responsibility to also live the countercultural Christlife that grabs people's attention. We love when others would hate. We live to serve others when others live for themselves. We bring selflessness into a world of selfishness. If those of us who claim to be Christians started living as Christians rather than just giving intellectual assent to the idea of Jesus, then we would start showing the world the equivalent of an amazing sunset rather than a dark, stormy sky. A beautiful waterfall rather than a raging, destructive flood.

This can't happen through our own efforts; it comes through tapping into the strength God provides. God wants to be glorified. God deserves to be glorified. It's not for His sake; it's for ours. When He is glorified and we see Him for who He really is, our lives will never be the same. We can overcome that addictive sin, love the unlovable person in our life, stop the destructive habits, and give sacrificially. These things will be easy to do if we encounter God, allow His Spirit to lead us, and continue in His strength.

None of these things will happen if we don't really encounter God. If we use church just for a place to raise up moral kids, we won't encounter God. If we go to church so we can feel like we have done our religious work for the week, we won't encounter God. If we do spiritual things to be seen by others, we won't encounter God.

We must seek God - passionately, desperately, wholeheartedly, and with every ounce of our being. When we seek, we will find. When we find, we will be changed.

Our change starts with God. Overcoming our struggles starts with God. Enduring hardship starts with God. We just have to get a glimpse of God, a real glimpse, and we will change. If you have something in your life that you feel that you can't change, which we all do if we are honest with our spiritual lives, then we should draw closer to God. He is wonderful. He is all-powerful. He is eternal. He is beautiful. His presence brings us to our knees and causes us to see our truly sinful state.

God is glorified through the beauty of His creation that He has called good. And He wants to be glorified in the greatest love of His creation, you. He loves you and wants others to see His glory through you.

The most important thing that can happen in our life is that we truly experience God. The real God. Not the imaginary God that we make up. It's not getting married, having a baby, or even being physical being born. It's encountering the life-changing God.

We are the biggest obstacle to the most important thing. We get in the way of us truly seeing God. We keep too busy to notice Him. We justify away His greatness. The fact is that we live in this modern world and can explain things. We can explain how the beauty of the colors in a sunset happen scientifically. We can explain the science behind a baby being conceived and born. We can explain how mountains were formed. But that doesn't mean that we still shouldn't be in awe of them. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't be in awe of their Creator.

We look at the Sistine Chapel and can still say that Michelangelo was a great artist.
We can hear the Brandenburg Concerto and marvel at the talent of Bach.

Or let me put it in more modern terms.
We can watch an episode of Breaking Bad and really appreciate the fact that the writers, actors, and directors have mastered their craft.
We can play Minecraft and appreciate the talent and vision of Notch.
We can hear a song by our favorite artist - for me an Avett Brothers song - and appreciate their touching lyrics and creativity.
We can see an amazing car and know that there are great engineers that designed it.
We marvel at an amazingly designed building and appreciate the architects and craftsmen.

Most of us here can't duplicate these accomplishments. And that is why we appreciate them. We can explain how they are done, but that doesn't take away their marvel. Their beauty.

And when it comes to the creation of God, we may be able to explain how it is beautiful, how the rivers were shaped, and all that jazz. But that doesn't take away the Creator's beauty. His majesty. His glory.

God is indescriblable. I can't give you a definition that can encapsulate Him. I can't develop a theology that encloses Him. Too often, Christians contain God within the Bible. We turn the book that is supposed to unleash Him into this world into a cage. But God is greater than any man-made cage. He will not be contained. He's greater than any one song of praise we may sing. He is vast. He is majestic. And we can't completely describe Him. If we would really take time out of our day to worship God, to bask in His presence, to understand just a little bit of Who He is and what He wants from us, to silently bow in His presence, then we will experience a renewed sense of awe. We will be humbled, and we will be changed. Our lives will be changed. Our communities will be changed. Our families will be changed. Everything will be changed.

Zecharias encountered God and his lips were sealed until the birth of his son. Bringing about a changed life that brought incredible things.
Isaiah encountered God and went forth. Another changed life that brought incredible things.
Moses encountered God at the burning bush. Another changed life that brought incredible things.
Paul on the road to Damascus. Another changed life that brought incredible things.

When we encounter God, we will be changed. And maybe incredible things will follow. But if they don't, who cares? We just encountered God. And that's enough. More than enough.