This morning I was reading in Deuteronomy as part of my daily Bible reading. It was a chapter towards the end, in which Moses is reviewing for the Israelites some of the commands that God has given for how they should live. To be honest, it was a difficult passage to concentrate on because it was full of guidelines and requirements that seem so far removed from how we live our Christian lives today. As a result, I found myself having to go back and re-read passages because my mind was wandering. As I did so, I noticed a pattern to what Moses was saying that went something like this: "Live for God, and He will bless you; ignore how He calls you to live, and He won't." I'm paraphrasing, but that's the basic truth that Moses was communicating to the Israelites.
This truth is not new to me - it's one I've actually taught on - but this time, what stood out to me the most was my own reaction to what Moses was saying. I found that as I read through the passages, I was gravitating towards the sections that talked about God's blessing. I read each word - enjoying the imagery of God being a gentle, generous provider. But when it got to the portions that talked about God's judgement, I had to fight the urge to skip ahead. As I pondered what was going on, an image of a buffet line came to mind - with God's characteristics as the items being served up. And I realized that I was treating God like a "sample plate" in which I could pick and choose the aspects of His character that I liked, while skipping over ones that might be hard for me to deal with.
Unfortunately, I don't think I'm alone in this approach to God, as all too often we only want to focus on the aspects of God that we're comfortable with. It's like we walk down an imaginary buffet line of God's characteristics, thinking - "Mmmm, God's love! Doesn't that sound good? I'll take two portions of that! And please throw in some grace and mercy. But I don't think I'll take any of God's justice, or holiness - last time I tried that, it upset me and I couldn't sleep." The problem with that type of thinking is that God can't be reshaped by our desires - He is who He is. And the complete God is who we're called to worship - not our version of Him.
God makes this clear in Exodus 20:4 when He says, "Do not make idols of any kind." When we decide to pick and choose the aspects of God that we like, and discard what we don't, we're making an "idol" to worship. It may be an idol based on parts of God, but it's still an idol, and God said not to do it. Instead, we are to worship the One, True God - accepting the fullness of Who He is, and how He's called us to live.
So today, let's ask God to show us the parts of Him that we're ignoring - whether it's His standards for how we should live, or His call to holiness, or His challenge to love those around us. Whatever it is, let's admit it, and surrender it to God - asking Him to help us accept the fullness of who He is, so that we can worship Him in spirit and in truth.