Where there is Love there is God

“Why do we need God when there are many non-Christians doing good things – without God?” This was the question a friend recently asked. He is disillusioned with Christianity and spoke of the warmth and kindness he had experienced while travelling in the Far East and meeting many good people from various cultures, religions and philosophies.“Those people are gentle and considerate and they are not even Christians! This just proves to me that Christianity is not the only way to live.”

Is it possible for people to be good without God? If so, do we really need God? When non-Christians do good, where does that goodness come from? Some answers I have heard are; “Non-Christians only do good because they are manipulating others to reciprocate.” Or “They just want to be liked” or “It is only because of their culture and upbringing – which is really shallow.” Answers like these reveal a closed-mindedness that not only can limit our perception of who God is but are also roadblocks to growth in our Christian journey.

Because of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, all humanity has been included in His life with His Father and the Holy Spirit (John 12:32; Acts 17:20). Since this has happened shouldn’t we see the fruit of this inclusion in people whether they have worked it out theologically perfectly or not? Shouldn’t we see some evidence of the goodness of God in the lives of non Christians?
In Luke 8:4-15 Jesus taught about a farmer who sowed seed on different types of soil. “The seed is the word of God,” Jesus explained. If we restrict ‘word’ to preaching, teaching and evangelizing, we limit the lesson – and our Christian worldview. But if we understand ‘the word’ to be Jesus (John 1) we are presented with a life-changing perspective. In Jesus’ parable the
seeds work in every kind of soil and are effective in one way or another.

In each scenario there is nothing wrong with the seeds. They offer life to the soil, germinate, spring up and begin their work. Whether they land on good soil or not each seed is still full of life. Even the birds pick up the seeds because the seeds are life to them. They cannot exist outside the resources of Jesus Christ - the creator of all things and the One who holds everything together (Colossians1:16-17).

How big is your God?

If a seed seeks expression as a fruit, a vegetable or a flower, is it that difficult to accept that Jesus is seeking expression in every culture, religion or philosophy? John
1:9 reveals that Jesus is “the true light, which gives light to everyone.” If a solitary seed can reveal itself as a flower in a crack in a pavement why can’t we envision Jesus coming up
through the cracks in society and seeking ways to express Himself by letting His light shine in? James 1:17 teaches us that “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father.” God loves to share Himself with everyone and anyone. We stunt our growth if we limit Him to our tiny views. How big is your God? In his book Knowing God J.I. Packer
writes, “Christian minds have been conformed to the modern spirit the spirit, that is, that spawns great thoughts of man and leaves room for only small thoughts of God.”

I recently saw a cartoon of a pastor holding a box out to a new member. The pastor says; “Welcome to our Church. Now, here’s your complimentary box outside of which you should never have to think again.” This reminded me of an incident that happened about thirty years ago. A member of a different church from mine was critically ill. Doctors said there was no hope of recovery. His church prayed for him and he was completely healed. I couldn’t understand. He had - in my conceited opinion - some strange beliefs, wasn’t a member of my church and certainly didn’t keep Gods laws the way I did. Surely God would never heal him. After all, my church was right and his was way off track. In my know-itall attitude I thought I had all the answers. I slowly began to realize that this kind of narrow minded, graceless thinking locked me into a crippling darkness resulting in a limited, stunted perception of who God is. God is not a puzzle to be solved but a mystery to be explored. Are you limiting God? Are you creating God in your own image? Are you content and comfortable to believe you have ‘arrived’ in your Christian journey?

Content to stay in the stable.

The final book in C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” is “The Last Battle”. It’s about the defeat of evil and the dawning of the eternal world, Narnia. Aslan is the lion, the King of Narnia - the Christ figure. After defeating evil, Aslan opens the door to the new Narnia which begins in a dark, damp, musty, cold, dirty stable. But the stable is just the entrance into the vast new world of Narnia. Some – the Dwarves – are content to stay in the stable. They believe that this is all there is to life. They have been saved from evil and all they have to do is remain there. But it is just the first step in and they need to heed Aslan’s call to go “further up and further in” – a recurring line in the story.

The message is that no one should stay in the stable because “Aslan is on the move”. Other characters in the story also encourage the dwarves not to remain where they are but to keep on pressing on. One of the most beloved characters in the story, Lucy, is told; “The further up and the further you go in, the bigger everything gets. The inside is larger than the outside.” Lucy realizes that it’s “a whole world with its own rivers and woods and sea and mountains.” “I see” Lucy said. “This is still Narnia, only more real and more beautiful.” But the dwarves continue to remain huddled in the dark, damp, cold stable. They think that the one step into this new life was the totality of it. But the whole new world of Narnia is out there waiting to be explored.

We can be like the dwarves – content to stay as we are – or we can change. Instead of remaining comfortable and safe in our beliefs and accepting that this is all there is, Jesus invites us to share His adventure with Him. In doing so we learn and experience that He is bigger and far more unpredictable than we ever imagined. Aslan, we are repeatedly told, is not a tame lion and he is not safe. We can’t make Jesus into our own image of Jesus Christ. He is something else. Actually it is His very goodness that makes Him not safe.

Jesus wants us to leave the stable where we took our first step and get up, move on and chase after Him. We are not dwarves and this is not all there is to the Christian life. There is nowhere we can go and escape
God’s presence or His love. There is no place where God cannot work and there is no person with whom He does not deeply desire to shareHis love. So let’s never lose sight of just how big, limitless, and loving our God is. Just when we think we have come to grasp God’s love,  He will show us it’s bigger still. Have a Christ-centered Christmas! And at this time of the year ponder on the words of the Angel to the shepherds (Luke 2:10) as he announced the birth of Jesus; “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”