Most of the time, when I talk to someone about the god that they have rejected, it turns out that I’ve rejected that god too. You know, the god of fear and closed-mindedness. The god of rejection and shame. The god that supports oppression, injustice, and bullying. The god that calls people to violence. The god that uses religion and ritual as a way to pacify the masses, or line the pockets of the powerful. The god that demands right choices lest I be punished with eternal torment. I’ve rejected that god too. Unfortunately, there are many people that have only been told about that god, and so they have walked away. I want to tell you about the God that I worship.
The God I worship loves me. God loves me for all my failures, imperfections, and bad choices. God loves me just as I am, and is working with me to grow into what I could be. God has picked me up, dusted me off, and reminded me that I am not junk. I am God’s. God uses my weakness for strength, and has replaced my shame with grace.
The God I worship wants me to love my neighbor as myself. God wants me to work for justice and act with kindness. God wants me to be vulnerable to others, not because God wants me to be weak, but because it is impossible to love without first being vulnerable.
The God I worship wants me to love God with all my heart, mind, and strength. God wants me to expand my mind. God wants me to challenge, for it is in challenging that we may grow. God wants me to look to the stars and wonder, explore, and dream about what is possible. God wants me to know not just the words of the Bible, but to know the heart of the Word. God wants my whole self, not just my Sunday self.
Today I saw my daughter enter a room. My heart leaped. I put my arms out and hoped beyond hope that she would see me and come. I wanted to see her smile. I wanted to make her laugh. I wanted to embrace and make her know that she was loved. That is how God looks at each of us, and even that is insufficient to describe God’s love.
This is the God I have found. Perhaps I should say more accurately, this is the God that has found me. This is the God for which I live and breathe. This is the God to whom I testify. This is the God whom I fail time and again, but who is willing to stick with me. This is the God of good news, the God of grace, mercy, and justice. I don’t blame or fault anyone for walking away from god. Odds are, I’ve walked away from that god too. All I can do is show you, tell you, demonstrate to you, and live out the love that is in me.