What stands between us and God? There are two things, not just one as you may think.
You have all heard that sin stands between us and God. Most people know this and they know that this is the reason Jesus came and was crucified. He took the penalty for our sins in his body on the cross so we might be dead to sin and alive to all that is good. We believe the good news, that our sins are forgiven, and yet most remain cut off from God. Why? Because the second thing that stands between us and God is our perceptions – our preconceptions – our faith which informs us as to what is real and what is not.
How we perceive, understand and believe the way life, the universe and everything works will determine and for the most part limit our ability to perceive, understand and believe God. The old expression that “God moves in mysterious ways” simply underlines our self-imposed perception limits. God moves in our midst at times that we call impossible, or worse, that we deny and call imagination, fantasy, or “not reality.” The truth is God can do above and beyond all that we may ask or think, but we don’t perceive it.
We talk to God in prayer but have no ears to hear what he says to us, daily in return. Many believe God doesn’t talk to people these days apart from some fuzzy internal feelings or maybe through the sunset or some other natural means. Indeed, most of us think that anyone who claims to have heard from God is a bit loopy. This is our perception, and because it is what we believe, our ears are dead.
We pray for miracles, but when God moves and a miracle happens, we cannot see it. We explain it away. We rationalize it and suggest it was just chance or luck. We doubt that it was a miracle. Some sincerely believe God does not do miracles anymore, at least not like in the old days. Or we might even take the atheist view and say, “There must be a rational explanation. Science may not be able to explain it now, but someday science will.” (To be sure, “Science will” is as bad an explanation as when Christians shrug things off with the words, “God’s will.”)
Our perceptions: how we view the world, what we consider possible and impossible, how we understand life to work, what we accept as real or not real, rational or irrational, reasonable or unreasonable – most of which controls our lives on an unconscious level without us having to recognize it, much less think about it — will determine and inevitably limit our ability to be in relationship with God. If we truly had the eyes to see, the ears to hear and the hands to participate, we would never feel so cut-off from God and alone. We would know with confidence, and not have to merely cling with our fingernails to a kind of faith that is barely able to say, “God exists.”
We need to talk about this in the posts to come.