Easter 6 “I Think God Is…”
May 17th, 2020 Acts 17:24-31
Brothers and sisters in Christ, may you receive from God the good you have not deserved, never get the bad you have, and may you be at peace with God through the blood of our risen Lord, Jesus Christ.
Who is God?
How often do you find yourself saying these words “I think God is…” and then fill in the blank? Do you hear people saying this too? Do you hear them say that God loves all people no matter what they do? Do you hear people tossing out ideas about who God is? People will replace God the Father with Mother Earth or call nature and the cycle of the seasons, God. We can say that God is found in our hearts or on the lake. We sometimes say that we can feel God’s presence with our emotions or that God loves it when we give lots of money or help each other out. We think we can get God off our backs if we do more good than bad. If we’re essentially a good person that is all that counts. What do you say that God does or has done? What do you say that God likes? How do you describe and understand God? Maybe, you’ve thought about it and conclude that there cannot be just one God, but there must be a whole number of gods.
When it comes to all your understandings over your lifetime of who God is, who all is in your pantheon? How many different descriptions and understandings of God exist?
This morning, we read about the time when Paul addresses a bunch of people in Athens about who God is. Paul threw another idea in the pot of ideas about who God is. Paul goes on to make a very clear distinction between all the other ideas about God that were out there and the idea about God He was telling them about. All the ideas about God are created by us and all these gods need to be provided with things by us. They need our prayers to them, our sacrifices to them, our devotions to them. All these gods need our belief in them to exist.
Paul tells this group of thinkers, people like you and me who think about who God is, that the God he is telling them about isn’t created by us and our ideas but created us instead. This God he talks about doesn’t need to be provided for or have things done for Him but provides for our needs instead. He exists completely without us and our creating of Him.
This is not the kind of God we can easily comprehend and our sinful nature doesn’t even really allow us to understand. WE always thing WE have to do something for this God. This God NEEDS us somehow.
As people, we create – we imagine. We are always in this ongoing process of trial and error and coming to conclusions about what we learn and observe. Human history shows us that we are always creating. One of the things we are drawn to create for ourselves is who God is. We cannot stop or help ourselves from doing so. Even if our creation involves the non-existence of God we have created this idea about God – that He doesn’t exist!
Let me tell you, in this process of trial and error, we do not always come to the best conclusions. Our son, Caleb, turned two yesterday. He does the strangest experiments to learn and create new ideas and conclusions about the world around him. For example, he will take a ball and try to balance it on a Hotwheels car that has a rounded top – and he’ll do this over and over again! He will put something randomly in his mouth, like a bunch of M&M’s, and then slowly open his mouth and drop them all over the carpet when he realizes he doesn’t like the taste (or put too many in!). He will build the most unsound structures out of blocks and be so sad and disappointed when they inevitably fall down. He will test the limits of our love for him over and over again by not trusting when we tell him that we will take care of him and get him a snack or pick him up when he falls down.
Marion’s discovered that the best way to get him to trust that we will act is by counting down from when we tell him to when we do it. Every second he needs the assurance and the reminder of who we are and what we will do.
He cannot trial and error his way to understanding who we are… We always need to show him and continue to remind him of who we are; or else he forgets and creates a new idea. Just like we cannot trial and error our way to understanding God. We cannot stumble upon, create or imagine the true God.
The true God must be revealed to us… over and over again. We cannot take the best liked ideas, phrases, components of other religions, slam them together and truly expect that to be God… it’s not.
The true God created us, takes care of us, IS Jesus who died for us, and is the Holy Spirit who brings us back to the truth… and even is God with us!
Who is God really? You already know. He has been revealed to you over and over again. All I am telling you is the reminder of the revelation.
Here’s a litmus test to see if your gods are the True God. Do you need to try and please and appease your God? Yeah? Then you have the wrong God. It’s okay.. it happens.. we all find and create the wrong God. Listen to when He tells you again who He is.
God, does everything for us so we walk in relationship with Him. He is your Father. He is your rescuer from evil. He is the Husband who is fully devoted to us, His bride, The Church.
God loves us. Knowing that we love Him.. not just in feeling but in devotion to Him. He doesn’t just feel love toward you, He has devoted Himself to you in baptism and came to die for you, and feeds you with forgiveness through His own body. His love for you in action and deed are what guide you to love Him in your words and deeds… but also to love His most treasured possession – people.