Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Articles of Religion Revisited Part 1: God

For the better part of my life I have been a part of the United Methodist Church. Through that journey I have seen some interesting things take place and have witnessed trends that are less than encouraging. It seems we  in the church are good at reproducing rhetoric, division, hurt and decline. What many have struggled with is reproducing Followers of Jesus Christ. We have often chosen ideology over incarnation and morality claims over ministry with. In it all I see the church at a decisive crossroads.
What I actually have found is a church that is no longer familiar to me and one that I wonder if I have a place in.

So part of this pondering has brought me to the point of revisiting the base tenets of the Church I call home, and have labored to see be a Church God can use to develop disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Over the next several weeks I will be looking at each of the Articles of Faith offered to the UMC from the Evangelical United Brethren. Each one will be adapted from the UMC Book of Discipline.

So, let us begin; Article 1-- God  "We believe in the one true, holy and living God, Eternal Spirit, who is Creator, Sovereign and Preserver of all things visible and invisible; Infinite in power, wisdom, justice, goodness and love, and rules with gracious regard for the well-being and salvation of all people, to the glory of the name of God. We believe the one God is self-revealed as the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, distinct but inseparable, eternally one in essence and power."

This seems like a good starting point, not only because it is labeled number one but because this is the foundation of all that follows. In the beginning God... begins the text of our relationship with God. Before there was form and order to the cosmos, before there was plants, animals and people, there has been God. The God who creates all things. However, creation was not the end of the relationship, God continues to be an active part of creation.

As the many understandings of God are listed in the article I am aware that there is more to the story than I can readily see or perceive. God is the God of all things, those I can see and interact with as well as the things that I cannot see. Often I limit God to my experience and understanding, quite simply this is wrong thinking. There is no limit to God except that which I attempt to impose.

Through it all we find the promise and desire of God revealed. God desires for the well-being and salvation of all people, it could be argued all creation. This means our lives are not a series of random events to which we react to. Rather, our life is a dynamic relationship with God in which our choices have consequences. All the consequences, whether we interpret them as good or bad have one aim, to connect us with the God in the deepest way possible that we may experience salvation here and now, and fully in the culmination of time as we understand it.

Wanting to use everything possible to connect with humanity, God self-reveals in three distinct persons to us. Father, the ultimate in parent that is just, holy, gracious, compassionate and loving. God that creates and rules over all creation. Son, God stepped out of eternity and into our world that we may know what it is to walk as Kingdom people, and to have the offer of grace and salvation offered.
Holy Spirit, the ongoing presence of God in our life and in creation that continues to call us, lead us and convict us toward a life that we have been created to live.

In all of this I wonder what it would be like if we were to seek after God on God's terms rather than our own. This is no easy task as we cannot possibly separate ourselves from ourselves. Still, I am committed to seeking the God in whose image I am made, rather than the God whose image I have made. A God that does not always agree with me and my understanding of the world but challenges me to a holiness and righteousness that is beyond my created ability.

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