I bet you have known someone pretty incredible.
Maybe they were humble in a way that was inspiring. Maybe they were brilliant. Maybe they came to your defense, or made you a supper when you were feeling low. Maybe they just have the kind of sense of humor that makes you chuckle regardless of your mood.
We have all felt the extraordinary experience of knowing someone awesome. Well that warmth and care you saw is just the tip of the iceberg of knowing God and being known by God. Those good traits we see in someone extraordinary are God traits! Care, counsel, warmth, love, even joy... those are God descriptions! When we are around them on earth, they light us up... now imagine how much more it is with the One who is the source of those things!
Sometimes God's own character gets put down by (sometimes even) well-intended folks. When we endure hardship, we can get hardened towards life... and transfer that to God. When we experience the ways of the world, we can feel lost and uncertain... and apply our personal wavering and wandering to God.
That is why Christianity is a faith that requires conversion. It requires work and intention to get to know who God REALLY is. Our hearts are hardened. We have to choose to soften them and seek friendship with God.
Nobody falls in love without effort. Nobody has a deep friendship without investing time and attention. But everyone who seeks God will find God. And what an incredible, good, and loving God to spend time and effort getting to know!
Loneliness hits hard. It is the plague of our times. Drifting away from people who care can come easily, while social effort is sometimes hard. Our technology can be a poisonous surrogate for real interaction and connection.
But no one is an island. Humans are wired for caring and receiving care. God made us into community, refusing to leave Adam alone in His creation. Without others, we are only partially created... we cannot live out God's mandate of love alone.
But the flip side is that vulnerability can feel impossible. We grow up protecting our hurts, managing our personalities to limit exposure to bad feelings. What we end up doing is learning to be on guard against others who might be threats. And we pull those who appear similar close to feel safe. We learn about bad feelings, about hurt, about gossip... and we try to avoid it all as we grow up.
But God designed up to be a collective Body. The Church is one, with many unique people working together. We are each different parts, pressing towards the same goal of love.
Healthy body parts contribute. Healthy parts work together in different ways. Healthy humans share care and compassion for one another. Sameness is never needed, but the basics are shared. Our leader is Jesus. Our Life is Serving. Our goal is Love.
You might be uniquely gifted to make food. You might be uniquely gifted to be handy. You might be uniquely gifted to thoughtful conversation. You might be uniquely gifted as a studious learner. Come and be a part of God's Body on earth. Give of yourself, and receive benefits of the gifts of others serving around you. Come alongside those who also are created and serve similarly to you. Be appreciated for who God created you to be, and offer appreciation for others who are similar AND different. And in doing so know you are already a part of the most important mission on earth.
We are agents on a mission from God. We can't succeed alone. We need one another. And God has beautiful plans for us each... together.
The God We Serve is BIG
It is so easy to slip into bad habits - even as believers. I have recently found myself tied up with worry and really struggling to live IN faith.
Faith is slippery for us mortals. Faith is confident, certain hope in what we CAN'T see. (Hebrews 11:1) I don't know about you, but I am often FAR more confident in what I CAN see. And that is not faith.
But the Lord is bigger. The Lord is bigger than my lack of faith, or yours. The Lord is patiently waiting for us to trust Him with our sources of concern. The Lord is always inviting us into a life that is built on asking, receiving, believing, trust, and hope.
It takes some doing to retrain our skeptical minds. It takes flexibility and humility to repent... a lot ... for all the ways that we miss the mark. It takes open hearts to center our lives on gratitude, gathering all the pieces of beauty and even correction we receive and identifying it as holy and good. It takes active minds that seek God's person, promises, and teachings - to start to live on them as much as we live on food. And it takes a soul that recognizes it is starving without God's holy goodness and care-filled leadership.
This life built on Jesus faith is described as ABUNDANT... we call it BIG. When yours starts to feel cramped with worry and fear and lack of beauty, get on your knees. Make a list of gratitude. Pick up your Bible... or your Bible App on your phone. Worship. And give.
Believing is a choice, a cultivated life of trust that no one inherits and each must choose. Faith is confidence in what we hope for, assurance in what is not seen. (Heb 11:1) Invest in your faith in God.