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A Reasonable God

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What do we say today as we gather around you dear folks in your loss?  How do we tell you that we love you?  We loved Charles, . . . I loved Charles.  It has been an absolute delight for me to meet as many of you as I have.  I loved to watch your interaction with your dad in the hospital.  I loved the way that you played together verbally, poking and prodding at one another.  The love and mutual respect that I sensed was clearly there.  And each one of you that I met was as unique as your father was unique.  It seems perhaps that you have all learned to be comfortable in your own skins.  Your obvious love for Charles is a great tribute to him.  The father is alive in his children.

Every once in a while I encounter people who de-mystify things.  They seem to take away the unknown just a bit and make the way clearer for those who follow.  Charles impacted me this way.  He seemed to take life as it came to him.  With all its’ twists and turns, its’ ups and downs, the good and the bad.  He received the news of his affliction in a manner that seemed to say to me, “That’s reasonable.”  In his 82nd year of life he stared death in the face as if to say, this is a normal reasonable part of living and I’m ready to get on with it.

That’s a difficult thing for us to fathom, especially in the years of our youth.  Charles loved the book, “Purpose Driven Life” and he seemed to devour its’ truth in a time when most people would be consumed with their prognosis.

God is a “reasonable” God.  He desires that we should come to our own conclusions.  He allows for the possibility for people to live as closely to His heart as they wish or as far from it as they feel they can run.  A person can spend a lifetime running away from God but it’s difficult to impossible to escape him.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths,a you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. [1] Psalm 139:7-12 (NIV)

If we believe that God is the Creator and that this world and life itself is His doing then we know that sooner or later we have to come to terms with Him.  Isaiah 1:18 is a word from God that we find in the scriptures.

18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. [2] Isaiah 1:18-20 (NIV)

God speaks through the prophet simply to say that we can choose to live in harmony or cooperation with God or we can live “out of synch” from a spiritual perspective.  Perhaps a reason for the restlessness in our hearts is that we sense that things are not as they should be and we try to fill the gap with anything that could bring any sort of satisfaction.  Some things do bring satisfaction but many times it comes and goes and each time it leaves, we become just a bit more disillusioned.  A spiritual deficit can never be filled with material.  The stuff that earth is made of can never fill the hole in the human heart.

He could decide that we are unreasonable and just legislate His will.  Any parent has been tempted to do that with their children when they are that way.

3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? [3] Psalm 8:3-4 (NIV)

But that won’t do any more than a forced marriage or a shot gun wedding.  In order for a relationship with God to find its’ meaning it must be entered into without reservation.  A person must be disposed to do more than placate God but to actively seek Him to discover His heart of love and then to  love Him as he knows Him.

The conduct of God, who disposes all things kindly, is to put religion into the mind by reason, and into the heart by grace. But to will to put it into the mind and heart by force and threats is not to put religion there, but terror.

Pascal in Pensees, 185.  Christianity Today, Vol. 39,  no. 6.

There is no greater commandment than this:

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’a 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. [4] Matthew 22:37-38 (NIV)

It makes sense you know.  I mean what else could God possibly want from you?  He doesn’t need your money or any particular talent that you have unless you give them out of this relationship.  But He does want you to love Him.

In a recent movie, “Bruce Almighty”, God is played by Morgan Freeman and Jim Carrey plays Bruce, a young man who blames God for all that doesn’t go according to his plans.  God allows Bruce to take his place for a week in order to show Him that there is more to the job than meets the eye.  His girlfriend leaves him because of his self-centredness.  In an “on-the-job” consultation with God, Bruce asks,  “How do you get someone to love you without altering their freedom of choice?”  The reply, “If you find the answer to that question, let me know.”

The only existing plan is that God loves us first and most.  He offered heaven’s best in the person of His Son.  He took upon himself the penalty of our disobedience and paid our price in full.

Our part?  To receive that gift, that grace, that relationship.

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

I don’t know much about Charles earlier years.  But I believe that he had his “sit-down” with God.  That peace and that relationship can give any person to face life with all its’ twists and turns and our own mortality in an uncommon way.


a  Hebrew Sheol

[1]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Zondervan: Grand Rapids

[2]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Zondervan: Grand Rapids

[3]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Zondervan: Grand Rapids

a  Deut. 6:5

[4]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Zondervan: Grand Rapids

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