Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Living God

The Living God – an essay

One morning I was reading in 2 Corinthians, chapter 6, verse 16, “For we are the temple of the living God.” My mind got caught on the word “living” and I’ve been chewing on that word since that morning. Since I was a young boy I’ve heard or read the words living God many times and have glossed over the meaning. Essentially I think I regarded living to mean real as opposed to fake. Additionally, I think it held connotations of activity as opposed to the stone gods that were passive. In reality, I don’t believe I gave it much thought at all.

As I considered the word that morning, I considered that perhaps I had fallen short by not contemplating the meaning more diligently.

Historically there have been worshiped:

· Fire gods

· War gods

· Fertility gods

· Nature gods

But in the scripture God is revealed over and over again as the living God.

If the fire god[1] is known as the authority, source, and controller of fire, and the war god is known as the authority, source, and controller of war, and the fertility god is known as the authority, source, and controller of fertility, is the title, “living God” an acknowledgement that God is the authority, source, and controller of all of life and living (how to live) – how to experience life?

The more I thought of this, the more it seemed that it was a valid line of thought. Jesus himself said, “I am come that they might have life, and they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10. And in John 3:16 I read, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Life seems to be the point. Living seems to be the point.

I wonder how often “living” is the thing we think of when we consider our faith. When I listen to our hymns at church, it seems that the verses that get the most emphasis have to do with later, after the second coming or after death. The verses of hymns most often skipped over (since we love to do the first and last verses of hymns if we sing them at all) are the verses having to do with the Christian life. We seem to be focused on getting people saved and then waiting until heaven, just like in the hymns, skipping over the Christian life. Even our favorite opening witnessing line is, “if you were to die today, do you know where you’d spend eternity?” as if “out there” is the sole focus of our faith.

When Jesus was confronted by the Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection, He challenged them for focusing so much on the “after we die” discussion when it was apparent from God’s declarations about Himself that He is the God of the Living.

But what does this all mean? Does it matter to make this distinction?

As we met with my family for the holidays, Glenn (my son who is about to deployed to a war zone again) was there with us for a short time. It was heavy on my mind that we should gather around him, as a family, and pray for God’s protection and watch care over him as he goes off to war. But we didn’t. We only made small talk and discussed things of relatively little importance. No prayer. A few days later, after he had returned to his base (perhaps signaling the last time we’d see him for 15 months), the rest of us met again for the Christmas dinner and of course we prayed before the meal. It occurred to me that we spent more time praying over the meal than we did over Glenn … and I think we (especially Glenn) missed out on something of the life of God because I didn’t press for the prayer time over Glenn.

It occurs to me that it is in those opportunities to believe God and respond to Him (exercise faith) that life exists and is either common or holy, is either mundane or exciting, is either fleeting or eternal. Perhaps the title Living God has something to do with our relationship to Him as we live (touch life).

Heavenly Father, help us to invite you into each of our living experiences. I pray that you infuse each of our interactions, and thoughts, and attitudes, and expressions of life with your Life.

[1] It is not my intent to compare the living God with any false gods, but rather to review how the terms are used and to consider if there is any merit in looking at the words through a slightly different lens. Sometimes the exercise of dissecting a phrase can yield fresh, rich new insights. There is, of course, no real comparison between the false gods referred to above and the Living God of the Bible.

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