We (as humans) haven’t always understand who God is.
- We thought he liked things that he never liked.
- We thought he supported things that he never supported.
- We didn’t understood that God has an enemy named Satan. – Forces of darkness that do things that are contrary to what God wants.
Because we didn’t understand that, there’s large portions of the bible that sees evil and blames ‘the sea’. The God of the sea – the leviathan.
But it all changes with the cross. Where we finally see that God comes as a loving, kind, and compassionate father who seeks to love and bless His children.
We see a God who would rather die for His enemies than kill them. He hasn’t changed, our understanding of Him has.
God is like Jesus. God has always been like Jesus. There has never been a time when God was not like Jesus. We have not always knows what God is like – but now we do. (Brian Zahnd)
Reason that that’s important for you – when it comes to the bible, what you read is our growing understanding of who God is.
The infallible, perfect word of God perfectly documents humanity learning who God has always been.
You have to understand where you are in the story.
If you talk about God the way that we talked about Him 4000 years ago, you’re taking a huge step backwards.
We’ve learned stuff since then.
Last week: we encounter Jesus, he sets our thinking straight. We’re no longer people of the sea – swaying in the chaos of our own thinking. Wondering who God is. Instead we become people of the cross. Through it we are finally able to understand what God is like.
It’s a big pill to swallow, b/c it’s a new way of understanding the bible. But if you can swallow it, it will open a whole new world for you. You’ll be able to read the Old Testament again.
Section A Who made who?
Who Made Who? Who made you?
Who made you? Ain’t nobody told you?
Who made who? Who turned the screw? (AC/DC)
If God is real, we don’t get to make him up.
He can’t be a figment of my imagination, Loving the things that I love, hating the things that I hate. If God is real, he has to be bigger than the box I’ve put Him in.
So the question: did God make us in His image or did we make Him in ours?
“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” (Anne Lamott)
Imagine: Instead of being in Albuquerque right now, let’s say you were born in India.
However you came to a belief in God (if you do), let’s say it’s the same there.
- Maybe you were raised in a ‘Religious’ household, and you adopted your parents faith as your own.
- Maybe you were hurting in life, so you went to some religious establishment (church, synagog, temple, etc) – found your faith there.
- Maybe you had friends that brought you to your belief in God.
However, because of your location, your ‘God’ looks a little different. – Lots of similarities, lots of differences.
You don’t believe there’s one God. – Millions of Gods. – In your hindu faith – you look at the Christian God and believe we worship a false idol. – You would believe that your Gods are pleased with your worship and upon reincarnation, your next life will be even better than this one. – When the Gods look upon the Christian, they are displeased and they will be punished in the next life.
There would be similarities, but there would also be some big differences. Reason is this: People often project themselves onto the God that they worship.
- American Jesus – looks pretty american.
- Indian God – looks pretty Indian.
Special guest in our sermon tonight. Indian Yogi and Mystic (and Hindu) Sadhguru.
Sadhguru “When you were born and you opened your eyes; you saw creation. Before you came here, so much had happened. Obviously you did not create it. So you thought, there must be a Creator. This is how you come to the creator isn’t it? The moment you thought there must be a Creator, because you are in human form, you thought, “It must be a big man. A small man cannot do all this. It must be a big man. Just two hands? How can he do so much creation? Must be eight hands!” Isn’t it so? You go and ask a buffalo and you will see. The buffalo will insist, “God is a huge buffalo. Maybe four horns.”
Goes on: Idi Amin (Ugandan dictator) – insisted – God is black.
Sadhguru “If white people can have a white God, why can’t black people have a black God? But of course both are confused because God is really brown, isn’t he!”
Someone else – “I beg your pardon, but you mean ‘she’. God is a woman.”
In India, they solve this problem by having tons of different Gods. Man Gods, woman Gods, cow Gods, monkey Gods. A God for every personality and mood.
Sadhguru “As long as man is the most powerful force on the planet, God is man. But as women gain more power, why not a woman? And suppose dogs gain even more power, they will ask, ‘Why is God not a dog? Actually the spelling is closer. Isn’t it so?”
Silly, yes. But it’s an important point: Your idea of God may be an exaggerated version of yourself.
National Day of Prayer here at the church – slides – Romans 13 – Governing authorities – “wear the sword to bring punishment to the wrongdoer.” – Me: “Man, I don’t care for that scripture at all!” – Right next to Adam Marti: “Man, I love it!”.
National Day of Prayer – Sandia. I just prayed at National Day of Prayer at Sandia. Lots of different people prayed. You know what I noticed? Peoples pictures of God often times reflected much of themselves.
- The military guy perceives God to be quite militant.
- People obsessed with ‘end times’ perceive a God obsessed with the end times.
- Conservative people perceive God to be quite conservative.
- Liberal people perceive God to be quite liberal.
Get 1000 times worse when we open our bibles and cherry pick scriptures that back up our pre-existing ideas of who God is.
A hateful person will find scripture to back up their hate.
You want to feel justified in hating your enemies? No problem Deuteronomy 7:2. “Show no mercy.” – Handy!
‘Kill everything that breathes’ (Deuteronomy 20:16)
“ ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.” (Leviticus 20:9)
Oh excellent! Because my kids!!!
“‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10)
Oh excellent! Because my e-wife!
In a way, we become like the Hindu’s. We don’t have lots of Gods, but we have a book with thousands of different pictures of Him, and we can paint him to look like our current mood.
Sadhguru concludes: “Whatever knowledge you have about God is just pure nonsense – cultural nonsense. Depending on what kind of culture you are in – it is that kind of God, isn’t it?”
I am a follower of Jesus. Not as pessimistic. I believe there are things about God that are true and things that aren’t.
But point: If God is real, we don’t get to make him up.
Section B The Cruciform God
Idea that I was introduced to – 3 or 4 years ago. Slowly been brewing in my heart. Slowly began to change my understanding of God. I hope it does the same for you.
I’ve made some subtle hints about this in the past, but I’m really going to lay it out here.
“That’s too extreme!” – Put it in your heart as a possibility, I believe that it will resonate on the inside of you, and you might see yourself gradually coming to it.
As followers of Christ, we have a cross-shaped view of God.
We look to Christ on the cross and draw our conclusions about God from Him.
We believe: When you look at Jesus, you see God.
You see in Jesus how God treats:
- His friends
- Religious people.
What that means is this: Everything else we understand about God comes under (NOT NEXT TO) Jesus on the cross.
In the past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways. But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son….The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being… (Hebrews 1:1-3).
Author: God – spoken – different ways – Jesus trumps.
A lot of people look at the bible like a cookbook. – Doesn’t really matter where things are, just find the page and you’re good. But the bible is not like a cookbook. It’s more like a story. And a story with a twist ending.
You ever seen sixth sense, or the book of Eli, The Village? I won’t ruin them, but (spoiler alert) somethings happens at the very end that reframes the entire story. That’s how the bible is.
Everything that you thought you knew, you realized you didn’t know.
Watch it a second time, it’s totally different. You’re like ‘It’s cool guys! He’s already dead!’
Jesus comes and flips everything around. So much so, that most people who were looking for Him, thought ‘That can’t be him!’
That’s why everything we thought we knew about God comes underneath Jesus.
‘Cruciform Theology’ – our theology (way of thinking about God) hangs completely on the cross.
Different pastors: “Jesus is perfect theology.”
Any idea I have about God, has to fit inside the cross. Otherwise I reject it.
We reject any picture of God that doesn’t look like Jesus.
You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, (John 5:39)
yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (John 5:40)
My wife Number 1
I have a lot of great friends, but my wife is Number 1. So I can be great friends with you as long as it doesn’t interfere with me and my wife. And if it does, you’re outta here. Cuz she’s Number 1.
When it comes to God – Jesus on the cross is our Number 1.
It would be so easy for me to work up a sermon on how we should seek vengeance on wicked people. – Our children, etc.
It would even be ‘biblical’ – 68 slides
Biblical sermon on anything.
Go to some church and hear a sermon on job or ester or something. That’s cool, but it’s not allowed to be on the same level as the cross.
Otherwise: we’ll start creating a God in our own image. – Angry,
Talking to a guy who was all ‘man, I’m telling you, this is the end! God’s gonna open up the earth and swallow all this up.” – Cool story bro, it looks nothing like the cross, so I reject is completely, but thanks.
End-Times 101: reject any end-times scenario where the returning God doesn’t look like “The Same Jesus”.
Acts 1 – Jesus ascension – 2 “men dressed in white” – language used to describe angels.
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
“Well what about all that stuff in revelation? Doesn’t Jesus have a sword coming out of His mouth?” – We’ll get into it. But for now, put it where it belongs, which is underneath – Jesus dying on the cross for undeserving people.
“What about all that stuff in the Old Testament” – Well I talked about it a little bit last week, but for all the rest that you don’t understand, put it where it belongs – underneath Jesus dying on the cross.
Get good at saying this: I hear you, but that doesn’t look like Jesus. (Repeat with me)
Interesting side effect:
In my opinion, Christianity is in the middle of a PR crisis. – Hypocritical, selfish, unintelligent.
New Athiests. – New group of public figures that directly attack religious faith (especially Christianity) as a dangerous and violent delusion that needs to be destroyed.
Proponents of this kind of thinking:
- Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion)
- Daniel Dennett (Breaking the Spell)
- Sam Harris (The End of Faith)
- Chris Hitchens (God is Not Good).
- Bill Maher (Religulous)
Amazing: Jesus isn’t the problem.
Attacks aren’t against Jesus, but Christians whose religion looks strangely un-Jesus-like.
Bill Maher :
“If you’re a Christian that supports killing your enemy and torture, you have to come up with a new name for yourself. … ‘Capping thy enemy’ is not exactly what Jesus would do. For almost two thousand years, Christians have been lawyering the Bible to try to figure out how ‘Love thy neighbor’ can mean ‘Hate thy neighbor.’ …
Martin Luther King Jr. gets to call himself a Christian, because he actually practiced loving his enemies. And Gandhi was so f-ing Christian, he was Hindu. But if you’re endorsing revenge, torture or war, … you cannot say you’re a follower of the guy who explicitly said, ‘Love your enemy’ and ‘Do good to those who hate you.’ …
And not to put too fine a point on it, but nonviolence was kind of Jesus’ trademark—kind of his big thing. To not follow that part of it is like joining Greenpeace and hating whales. There’s interpreting, and then there’s just ignoring. It’s just ignoring if you’re for torture—as are more Evangelical Christians than any other religion. You’re supposed to look at that figure of Christ on the Cross and think, “how could a man suffer like that and forgive?” …
I’m a non-Christian. Just like most Christians.
… if you ignore every single thing Jesus commanded you to do, you’re not a Christian—you’re just auditing. You’re not Christ’s followers, you’re just fans. And if you believe the Earth was given to you to kick ass on while gloating, you’re not really a Christian—you’re a Texan.
Cynical stinker for sure.
His unbelief – more like – hatred for un-Christlike perversions of God.
Instead of being offended, or hanging your head in shame, hear his criticism as a call back to a more Christ-like God.
As I close:
If God is real, we don’t get to make him up.
We don’t get to focus on the scripture that paints a picture of God that looks the most like us.
Other religions do that, but you’re not allowed.
Instead – we have to find Him for who He really is.
As followers of Jesus, all pictures of God MUST fit within the cross. and nothing is to be on the same level as Jesus.
All other beliefs, all other opinions, come 2nd to Christ on the Cross.
“Uhh.. There’s some pretty big implications there.”
Good. – It’s time for us to decide who we follow. Is it Christ?
Closing Statement: It’s easy to create a God that looks like us. A God that loves what we love and a God that hates what we hate. We cherry pick scripture to reinforce our own imperfect ideas. And the world is noticing. They’ve noticed that selfish people have created a selfish God, and the sad thing is, they’re right. They want nothing to do with these false pictures of God and who could blame them. I agree. But that all changes when we encounter Jesus. Jesus, the crucified God. A God more loving, kind, compassionate, and forgiving than we could have ever imagined. He’s the plot twist. He’s the shock therapy. Let Him be the highest and truest picture of God in your heart. Cruciform theology. All ideas of God fit into the cross or are rejected. Everything else bows at the feet of Jesus. We follow Jesus, we are people of the cross.
One of the things I hope to do with Outlet, is to have a place for in, in your own way, to reconnect with God. – So that’s what we hope to do with Communion.