“God the Movie Character” versus “God the God”

My three-year-old nephew just may be one of the world’s worst hide and seekers. For some reason he thinks that he is able to hide 3 feet away from where I am counting and not be found. For some reason having bed sheets cover your upper body makes you invisible. His favorite movie to watch is Ice Age. Oddly enough, he is a staunch advocate for ONLY watching the few scenes with the squirrel chasing the acorn. We basically have to repeatedly fast forward through 85% of the movie just so that he can watch those hilarious “squirrel” moments. My nephew also likes to laugh, run around and hug. He can be tiring….but….believe me, I don’t mind at all. I can watch him watch Ice Age for hours. It feels so good just to be able to sit in the joy of his presence. My mini-me. It is tough living 7 hours away from him now.

There is a picture of my little nephew on my fridge. There are three other photos spread across on my coffee table, ha.  They help me remember his smile everyday and it pulls this lever of warm happiness in my head. I love that kid. But in an awkward paradox, I also hate the photos. Sometimes I want to just put them away so that I cannot see them. The reason for this being that they play with my emotions. They leave me empty inside because I realize that I cannot really see him.  The photos are not the real thing….they aren’t my fun, joyful nephew. I can’t hug it tight and teach it to hit a baseball. The photos are not willing to race me in the backyard. And it surely does not ask me to play the Gummy Bear Song on my laptop 20 times a day. As much as those pictures do serve me well….I hit a ceiling with them every time. I do not know the pictures. They fail to give me the sustaining love that my nephew brings. It is very frustrating.

In the same way, we should be frustrated when we settle for the concept of God instead of the reality of Him. The grace and love that God has allotted to us is very tough to receive when he is simply a concept to be thought on. On the other hand, a reality is something that we can grasp. One way this plays out when we go to church, sing a few songs, pray the same systematic prayer, and then make sure that we do not curse as we drive home. We turn church into a hobby and turn God into a “thought”.  Jesus becomes a movie character we know about, instead of a God we know & love. All the while we are short-changing ourselves. Are we treating God like a concept or like a reality?

When the explosion occurred at the Boston Marathon last week, all of America was reminded of the reality of terrorism. We remembered the reality of how short life is and the evil in this world. This changed us, in a positive way, for a few days. Two weeks ago most of America only viewed terrorism as a concept (even as we all very well know that it is real) because we have not been attacked in a while. However, these past few days, we have been focused on the realities of terrorism as our eyes have been reopened. Cancer is only a concept to me because I haven’t had anyone extremely close be affected by it. But let my mother catch it…then you’ve got my heart’s attention to it’s reality. Then you’ve got me on my knees praying to God about cancer.

We must press for our walk with Christ to be the same way, without needing something tragic to remind us. The more that we spend with our thoughts on the Lord and speaking with him the more we will experience his presence. He will become a reality and not just a few words in a big book (our a picture on the fridge). King David says “But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge…” Psalm 73:28. David, who was a chief sinner in the Bible, experienced a beautiful closeness with our Lord. This is a man who committed adultery and then had the nerve to have the husband of his mistress killed. Still, the Bible calls him a man after God’s own heart, Acts 13:22. Is this not an open door invitation that maybe, even we average-level sinners, can have that closeness as well?

The gravity of knowing God and trying to sync up with him is a reality that God wants us to know personally. I love it when I get the chance to be around Charismatic believers. They get this particular aspect of the Gospel down so well. They have a holy-exuberance that they meditate in constantly and the fruit can be seen from it. I pray that we grasp him closer and hone in on these truths more.  He physically came into this world. He did die for us. He did resurrect. He IS returning. Yes, Yes, Yes, he is returning. [Matthew 24:30]

I hope that my nephew reads this blog post after he learns to read. This may get me a few cool points AND help in his sanctification. Clutch victory there.

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