Friday, November 30, 2012


We love formulas, don’t we? Formulas make things easy. Patterns make things simple. But when it comes to Christianity this can be a serious problem. Why? Because God is not a formula. He’s a person.

Jesus is not a concept, He’s a living God.

When it comes to evangelism, we prefer the easy formulas. Give me the Roman’s Road, the Four Spiritual Laws or the King’s Way of evangelism. Even though Jesus never used any of those patterns to communicate the Gospel to anyone. Neither did the Apostles. The truth is, they never once repeated their message or their pattern. Instead, they took each person on an individual case-by-case basis and allowed the Holy Spirit to tailor-make a response based on the specific needs of that one person.

When it comes to theology we love patterns. Give me the TULIP, the Dispensations, the Apostle’s Creeds. The problem is, faith is more elastic than that, and our God isn’t a theorem to solve. He’s a living God with ideas, and plans, and emotions, and desires, and an agenda that is so far beyond yours and mine that it’s more than a little ridiculous to think for even a moment that we can figure Him out.

The real problem with patterns and formulas, however, is that once we think we’ve got everything reduced down into a formula, we don’t need God anymore. We can do everything by simply following our liturgy and our process.

But God does not work that way. He will always slip out of your box. He refuses to do things the same way every time. He is not on your leash. He is far and above every idea and concept you could possibly imagine.

How audacious to think that we can boil God down to a formula. If we’re honest, our formulas about how God works are almost always very simple. If God was ever to be expressed in a formula it wouldn’t be anything as simple as A + B = C. It would take an entire universe of chalk and an infinite blackboard beyond our comprehension to contain such a complex and unique formula like God.

Once we have a pattern we no longer need a person. Jesus is determined to slip out of our patterns because He does not want us to settle for anything less than His dynamic, constant, immediate presence and power in our lives.

How foolish we are to think that God could ever be reduced to a simple pattern. If anything, He is an enormously huge algebraic equation for whom there can never be a large enough white board to write everything down.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a relationship with a living God than with a set of formulas and predictable patterns.

Now, this doesn’t mean that God is just too complex to know and understand. The truth is, He does want us to know Him. But that ability to know Him more comes from His side of the process (revelation) not from our side of the process (formulaic faith).

Knowing God is as simple as having a conversation. Get on your knees, or take a walk in the park, or drive down by the beach, or just get alone with God and start sharing your heart with Him. Listen for His voice. Meditate on His goodness in your life. Be thankful for all you have. Trust Him with your life. And know in your heart of hearts that He loves you more than words can ever say.


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