In Sunday School, we discussed Andrew and Simon Peter being called as disciples. Andrew immediately went and told Peter about Jesus. As I was sitting there, I thought, “Wow! Jesus knew that would start the chain reaction he needed. He had faith Andrew would do the right thing.”
And so that thought kept swimming in my head – God has faith in us. It was a beautiful thought and I knew it would make a great blog topic. Only, each time I sat down to write and research, I hit a wall. I read things that said, yes, God definitely has faith in us and then I read things that said no he doesn’t because we are awful sinners. Both seemed to make perfect sense. And I found scripture that seemed to support the fact that he had faith in us, but again when I would go to write about it, the idea just didn’t add up.
So I did what all girls do when they need help. I texted my daddy – who happens to be a great preacher. And through our conversation Daddy said something that brought clarity to the whole issue – and completely changed direction of my blog post. He said, “Faith is a word used to describe our relationship with God, NOT his relationship with us.” That made perfect sense. That is why every time I tried to explain the idea that God had faith in us, things just didn’t add up.
Which brings me to the point of this story and post. He is God and we are not. We continually limit God by trying to describe Him in human terms. We treat God as if he is a really good, really powerful HUMAN, and He is NOT. He is God – capital G.
I know it is hard not to do because it is all we know. We know human. I mean I was trying to do it myself through saying God has faith in us. But there is a real danger in limiting God to human understanding. When we limit Him, we limit ourselves and the divine possibilities we have in our lives.
Here are some dangerous ways we limit God.
1) We limit Him with worldly definitions.
Case in point – the fact that I tried to say God has faith in us. Each time I tried to explain the idea, I felt like I was chasing my tail. Faith defines us, not God. He is beyond our definitions.
And think about the idea of greatness. The world’s definition of greatness usually revolves around money and fame. Sometimes it even has a humanitarian foundation but above all, it is temporary. But our God is eternally and infinitely great, and when we find our foundation in Him, we can share in that greatness too.
Think about some of the famous figures from the Bible. David was a king – certainly great by the world’s standards, but he started out as a shepherd. And all the ideas that lead to his Biblical greatness really have very little to do with his royal position. Now, look at Paul. He was a murderer who ended up a prisoner – first against Christians and then for becoming one. While his past is definitely sketchy, without him we would lose much of the New Testament. We would lose many scriptures that have greatly impacted my life and I am sure countless others.
If we tried to define either of these men with worldly definitions, they would be very different and possibly not the least bit noteworthy. But what they do have in common is the fact that they refused to limit God. They both saw the possibilities of their lives when they were covered with the grace and power of God. I mean I can’t imagine what David was thinking as he approached Goliath or how Paul was able to overcome his past. I mean I feel guilty about letting my kids watch too much television.
The one answer to this is our limitless God. We cannot define Him by finite things of this world. Psalm 86:10 tells us, “For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.” He alone is God. There is no way to define something when we have nothing to compare it to. No one or nothing comes close to his goodness, power, grace, mercy, and love. And as hard as that is to grasp, aren’t you glad? Because when I think about things of this world, many times they are followed by disappointment and letdown. But not our God. He is not limited to nor defined by this world.
2) We limit God with what we see in the mirror.
When I look in the mirror, I see an insignificant girl (yes, still a girl, not a woman) with too many freckles (which I think once you get past 30 they start calling them age spots…), brown dysfunctional hair, and a body that sags in all the wrong places. I see a girl from a small town who went to an average university and only has her bachelor’s degree. I see a girl who talks too much, who worries too much, and compares entirely too much.
If I think too hard about the fact that I started a blog, I usually end with the thought – WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? I don’t know the Greek words used in the Bible. I don’t know the complete lineage of Jesus. I don’t have a degree in writing. My proofreading skills are seriously lacking. I had no idea how to set up a blog and if we are being honest, I am still totally winging it.
BUT – and I want you to pay attention to this but – I am not limited by any of those things and neither are you. God led me to start this blog, so I did. And if I am the only one who reads it, so be it. He is growing me tremendously through just having me write it. When He sees me, He is not seeing the girl in the mirror. He is seeing someone created in His image, who He put His special creative touch on. He is seeing someone He created with divine purpose.
Really think about Psalm 139:14. “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” I know it is a scripture you have probably heard over and over. Don’t check out now and think oh, yeah, I know. When we think about fear in terms of God , we often think about respect. And that is what “fearfully” means here. God created you with respect, with reverence, with genuine interest. He did not create you so that you would defined by or limited to your hometown, your family, your body size, your educational level, your income level, your neighborhood or anything else of this world. You are limited only according to the level of faith you have in Him, and if you allow your faith to grow, then the possibilities are endless.
3) We limit him with our sin (past and present.)
Okay, so this is a tough one because many times our sins are our dark secrets, our skeletons in the closets, our moments of shame we hope no one notices. Even though I have no idea what they are, just the mention of them here has left you feeling like you were punched in the gut. But let’s get one thing out of the way. We all have them. Sin. Dark secrets. Skeletons in the closets. Moments of shame. Remember the Bible tells us ALL have sinned. And think about those from the Bible. Can you think of one, besides Jesus, who was sinless? As a matter of fact, we have probably looked at many of them and thought – how could they?
But what I really want you to pay attention to is how God used them. No one from the Bible was limited by his sin, unless he allowed it. Think of the Israelites. How many times did they sin against God? Like over and over. My Biblical knowledge sums it up to be A LOT. But in spite of their sin, they experienced some of the greatest miracles. Each time the Israelites repented, God was right there and he was ready to use them.
And look at Paul. Every time I think of him I think, only with God. Paul, formerly known as Saul, killed Christians. He hunted down Jesus followers and killed them. He was there when Stephen, a great church leader, was stoned. But, God did not see Paul in his sin. God saw Paul’s potential through Him. God knew he could use Paul in mighty ways. If God looks at Paul in that way, don’t you think he looks at us the same way? If He could see Paul through the blood of Christ, that is how he sees all of us.
And Paul is the one who reminds us that God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Was His death on the cross not enough to cover your sins? Of course not, so don’t act like it wasn’t. And the weaker we are, the more confused we are, the more unprepared we are, then the more we have to depend on Him, the more we will see HIS strength through us. And so will everyone else.
As a side note, I know many Christians are often hesitant to witness because of past and present sin. We feel like the sin will be thrown back in our face and that is the worst feeling. But just be honest. Paul won countless souls to Christ because he embraced the grace of Jesus. And the more you embrace that grace, the greater God can do in your life and the more people will see the change it created.
4) We limit Him with our small thinking.
Matthew 17:20 says, “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” We read that scripture and it sounds good and if I asked you if you believed it you would probably say “Of course.” I know I would say the same thing, but I don’t know if we really, really believe it… or I don’t know if we live like we believe it. I mean, we don’t really think the mountain will move. Jesus is just using that as a metaphor, right?
Again, we are limiting Him with our small thinking. When we pray, don’t we usually just pray for positive, but realistic results. How often do we really pray for mountains to be moved? And then if we do, do we add on escape doors, phrases of doubt? If it is your will, God… Of course we want His will in our lives, but part of that will is for us to have undeniable, unshakable, UNLIMITED faith in him. And when we are honest about that, most of our actions speak louder than our words.
Let me remind you (and myself), that God created the entire universe. Just look at the sky and be amazed. He parted the sea. He made the walls of Jericho fall. He caused the sun and the moon to be still. He shut the mouths of the lions. He turned water into wine. He fed the five thousand. He healed the sick. He calms the storm. He restores life. AND He rose from the dead. And I know, we often think, but that was all in the Bible. Does He really do those things today? And there we go, limiting Him again. There are miracles all around us today. Sometimes modern medicine gets the credit, or we call it luck or coincidence, but He is here and He is still doing great things, even if we fail to give him the credit.
As I conclude this post, I think it has been one of the hardest to write, because I limit God in each of these ways. This is a hard pill for me to swallow. But this post has also been one of the most exciting to write, because I know if I quit thinking about God in human terms, my entire life will be transformed. So many times we don’t even realize we are limiting God with our thoughts and actions, just like with my thought in Sunday School. Let’s make this a matter of prayer so that we can see a transformation in our thoughts and in our lives. He wants so badly to show us His power and His might and His grace, but we are going to have to let go of our humanness some and trust in the fact that He is God and we are not.