What God Really Wants
JR. Forasteros - January 29, 2017
What God Really Wants
From Series: "The Prophets & Poets Mixtape"
What does it mean that God is FOR the world? Epiphany is the season that celebrates the revelation of God to the world. Epiphany asks, Who is this god who came among us? Like the mixtapes young lovers used to make, we’re listening to the songs of God’s prophets and poets because such a powerful love can really only be expressed in song. The soundtrack to God's good news is now playing!
More From "The Prophets & Poets Mixtape"
When I was in high school, I spent a night outside over Christmas break with several of my friends. It was for some organization (I can’t remember which one), and we were raising awareness of homelessness. People were supposed to donate money or food. We all bundled up in our best winter gear, had sleeping bags, and we made pallets out of cardboard boxes to sleep on. I think we made smores, somehow.
I worked for QuikTrip at the time, so I showed up with about fifty boxes after my shift at work. I used probably seven rolls of duct tape to construct a fairly impressive cardboard dwelling. We made it on the news, and I got to be interviewed about my brown and silver street palace.
Needless to say, I think I missed the point of the exercise. Looking back on that kid, I don’t recall a particular new perspective on homelessness. I don’t recall, in fact, being excited about anything except for the fact that I made it on TV.
You may, if you’re inclined to be kind, chalk that up to adolescent self-centeredness. But looking back, I see something else at play – or rather, something that was missing.
I grew up in church, which means that by the time I was camping, I had spent roughly 17 years hearing about God’s love for the world and what it meant to be a part of God’s people. But somehow, in all that time, I had never learned to wonder what God might think about homelessness.
I grew up in a church where what God really cared about was my behavior. Obey my parents, don’t drink or have sex, and try to be nice to people. The Church had no real obligation to other people beyond niceness, and we didn’t ask how the Church should be involved in big social problems like education, poverty, immigration or other issues.
This is a common problem in churches – that we divorce so-called social justice from a concern for character and personal holiness.
It’s a problem because we have the wrong picture of God. Imagining that God is only concerned with behavior is actually a pagan view of God. If we understand who God is, the full story of God’s love for us as creator and our role in God’s creation, then we see that there is no separation between our call as people and our call into the world.