What is your perception of God?
When we talk about God, we often start by describing Him in vague terms. Our perception can easily mutate into a caricature contrary to who God really is. Many people view Him as a mean, distant figure—a deity who is only concerned with creatures who act moral, and who has no vested interest in connecting personally and lovingly with them. In the book, Let's Start with Jesus, Dennis Kinlaw notes that:
"Most of the gods that so-called unbelievers reject have never had any objective reality and are simply the goblin constructions of their own minds...The god before whom the sincere believer bows likewise may be a caricature that does little justice to the reality one believes oneself to be worshipping."
In reality, God is love. He is transcendent but He is also personal. This is most vividly presented in the New Testament in the person of Jesus Christ. God cares about us immensely. He is the Creator of the universe, yet His eye is on the sparrow:
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." --Matthew 10:29-31 (NIV)
Sometimes false perceptions of who God really is can cloud our perspective. God is not an abusive father and He is not distant. He is everlasting perfect love and wants to be in fellowship with every single one of His children.
Love and Fear
Fear and love are opposites. In fact, scripture says: "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."(1 John 4:18)
This is true from a spiritual level, but also a physiological level. The amygdala is the part of the brain that senses fear. We also have another part of the brain that helps regulate that fear called the anterior cingulate cortex, or ACC for short. A fascinating study showed that meditating on a God of love helps people manage and diminish fear and anxiety:
"Dr. Newberg at the University of Pennsylvania has shown that when individuals aged 60 to 65 meditated 12 minutes a day for 30 days on a God of love, they experience growth in the ACC as measured by MRI brain scans, reductions in heart rate and blood pressure, and improvement in memory testing. Meditating on any other God concept, such as an angry, wrathful, distant, or punitive god did not result in these positive outcomes" (Timothy Jennings, The Popular Encyclopedia of Christian Counseling).
If you are struggling with anxiety, reach out to God. Connect with Him through prayer and meditation on His Word and His character: "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7)
God loves you unconditionally and has His best in mind for you. Will you trust Him today?
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How the Resurrection Changes Everything
Spring, and especially Easter, is my favorite time of year. It reminds me of the resurrection and the fact that all things are being restored for God’s glory. It makes me think of this verse:
“Even in laughter the heart is sad, and the end of joy is grief.” —Proverbs 14:13
Huh? How encouraging. How does this remind me of Easter? It is a vivid reminder that all good things in this life end. We are all faced with the irreversible and inevitable fact that death is around the corner. Tim Keller comments on this verse saying:
Here’s the happy family, sitting around the dining room table. And the simple reality is that…one of those people is eventually going to see every other member dead. Death ends everything. Everything your heart wants out of life eventually will be taken away from you.
Deep down we all know this is true and this is a big reason we have a hard time truly living in the moment, even when everything seems to be going well. Sin is the cause of death, but because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, sin (and death itself) has been defeated. God is actively seeking to reconcile all people and the creation to Himself. In his book, Miracles, C.S. Lewis notes:
The New Testament writers speak as if Christ’s achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the “first fruits,” the “pioneer of life.” He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so. This is the beginning of the New Creation: a new chapter in cosmic history has opened.
All are invited into the New Creation, but it has to be chosen. God won’t force anyone’s hand. When we accept Him, we too become a new creation—transformed more and more into the image of Jesus Himself.
What does the proverb at the beginning have to do with the New Creation? Well it’s still true of this life, but there is now a different perspective. Death is no longer eternal for the believer, but is simply a portal to the next world, a New Creation that will prove to be a deeper, truer reality. Bad things still happen in this life, but not without access to the transformation, peace, and joy Christ gives—the very thing that will strengthen and fill you up for when the bad things happen.
What’s holding you back from trusting Christ?
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