Okay, so I think I have figured something out. I have always wondered why I sat in church for years and didn't seem to grow in my relationship with God. I didn't backslide in the sense of doing wrong things and I never stopped going to church. I was still reading my Bible and I did all the right things, but I didn't seem to get any closer to God. Why? I really believe it was because I didn't understand "relationship" and it was never taught at my former church. I tried to live a formula and I missed out on years of knowing who God really is. We were taught certain parts of the Word of God, but we weren't taught the heart of God. I know His Word is His heart, but I'm talking about the person that He is and His character. We were taught about the acts we needed to perform to earn things from God, but we weren't taught about the unconditional love of God. I have figured out that the person you are receiving from has to have the things you desire in your life.
I read that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Southern Baptist Association has now proven that Christianity is the fastest declining religion in America. That is sobering to hear, but do you know why that is? I think it is because people aren't hearing about who God really is. The picture that has been painted of Him is not attractive. Many churches are not teaching people about the love of God and what it means to have a relationship with God. Ministers have gotten so "deep" in their teachings and revelations, the simple things about God are being bypassed. Doesn't the Bible say that it is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance? The goodness of God is His kindness, compassion, mercy, grace, guidance, comfort, acceptance, unconditional love and the awesome relationship He wants to share with us. How are people going to really know who God is if all they hear are mixed-up teachings that have no rhyme or reason to them? One minute a minister is talking about walking in the fruit of the Spirit and ten minutes later he is bashing another Christian. How is that showing anyone the true heart of God? One minute someone teaches on God's promises and how they are a free gift, but then they tell you what you have to do to earn them. It seems that some ministers will convince you of who they want you to think God is. It is time for us to find out who God is for ourselves.
I am reading a book right now called "The God's Honest Truth" by Darin Hufford and it is changing my whole outlook on who God is. It is awesome. He says, "I do not believe that there is a person in the Bible that is more misunderstood than God. He has been misrepresented for thousands of years." I believe that. There are so many people giving their opinion of who God is and it has gotten the world confused. People are scared of God because they think He will turn on them in a second, just like other people in their lives have. I think there is so much more we can learn about God's love for us. The purpose of this book is to teach about the love of God and to understand the heart of God. As I read things that help me, I will share them with you. He said a good place to start learning about God's love is to look at Him through the light of I Corinthians 13.
"God is patient. God is kind. God does not envy. God does not boast. God is not proud. God is not rude. God is not self-seeking. God is not easily angered. God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres."
God is patient. I want to take this first attribute of God and give a few quotes from the book. I am seeing a new picture of who God is and that He really does love me.
"God is patient with you because He understands you fully and completely. He knows every tiny little facet of your heart. God even knows the things you have long forgotten about. He knows the things that have made you the person you are today. His patience with you is not a case of God holding back His boiling anger toward you, but it is simply God knowing you so well that He doesn't even begin to lose patience. There is never a time when He loses patience with you because you aren't getting something fast enough. God has decided wholeheartedly that He will be with you for all eternity. He isn't even thinking of leaving. God has patience with you because He knows the end of your story, and He is pleased with it. It's a happy ending!"
I am so glad I read that He doesn't lose patience with me when I don't get something fast enough. The process I am walking through after leaving a controlling church has been tough. Honestly, I have been through a lot of hard times, but this ranks up at the top. I feel that I am having to rebuild my whole life. I am trying to figure out the things I am supposed to take with me and the things I am supposed to leave behind. It is a process that doesn't happen over night. I feel like I have been wounded and I am healing slowly. The one thing that is helping me the most is to focus on His love, and nothing else. I am so thankful that He is not angrily standing by while I "get over it." He is right in there with me, gently leading me. I am really starting to get a clear picture of who He is. He is not the God I thought He was. He is not the God who was modeled before me for years. He is my Father and He loves me, not based on what I do, say, or how I act. He just loves me. These are the things that really matter, not the long list of requirements that were placed on us to measure up to someone elses standard. God's standard is pure love.
I Corinthians 13 describes the true heart of the God we serve. If you have been made to believe that He is any different than this description, it's time to wash your mind clean and start over. If it is really true that Christianity is declining, there is something wrong! It's time for us to learn and understand the love of God and share it with everyone around us. That is what will make the world want to come to Him, read His book, talk to Him, and give their lives to Him.