This post is not only a part of our weekly theme, but a continuation of a blog tour I am participating in this summer. Go here to find links to other great posts about The Glory of God.
The glory of God is not always obvious to me. So many things impede my view.
The world is full of too much darkness. Too many wars. Too much violence and cruelty. Too much death and pain and grief.
But it’s more than just what is out there. What’s inside me gets in the way as well. I am usually concerned about myself. My self-absorption demands so much of my attention that it can be difficult to see God through the haze.
And honestly — and here’s where it gets tough for me — the Bible itself can make seeing God’s glory difficult. Have you read some of these stories? Genocide, stealing, murder, rape, incest…and that’s just the people of God. It can be very hard to understand some of these stories and the way that God is painted by them. I struggle with this.
On Tuesday, Trevor had a wonderful post about one of these difficult narratives and how we need to re-understand it. My friend Phil shared some of his thoughts in the comments, and although they are different than my own, they are honest and raw and create good conversation. I suggest you check it out.
I am so thankful to have good friends to help wade through these passages with me. They challenge me and push me and sometimes drag me along to help me see a God who is good and faithful, even when it’s difficult to understand.
Working through ancient writings like these takes patience and study and community in order to grasp an understanding of what exactly these stories are saying. I’m still working on that part and there are so many other passages that bother me. So much that I don’t fathom.
But there is one thing I always get; one thing that I have discerned:
God has welcomed me to this journey.
He is not alarmed by my doubt.
He is not annoyed by my questions.
He is not even intimidated by my accusations.
In Matthew 10, we see Jesus sending out his apostles to spread his message. He gives them instructions with one simple truth: You will not always be welcome. People will disagree and dismiss you. Some will not want to hear what you have to say. Others will flat-out hate you.
But, he concludes,
“Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me. If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will be given the same reward as a prophet. And if you receive righteous people because of their righteousness, you will be given a reward like theirs. And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” – Matthew 10:40-42
Blessed are those who welcome you. Because God is a god of welcome.
He is the one who commanded the Israelites to leave a portion of their wheat harvest on the ground for the less fortunate and outsiders. He is the one who sent Peter to the house of Cornelius, because even Gentiles (Roman Gentiles!) can be included. And he is the God who accepts a broken down, selfish, sometimes ill-tempered misfit like me to his table.
The world is often unkind. I, myself can be selfish. But God is welcoming. When all other avenues fail me, I see the glory of God in the welcome.
At a table where everyone is invited. Faithful ones like my parents. People with serious doubts and questions like my friend. And even sinners like me.
Just like I see in my community of friends. A place where I am invited warts and all. A place where I belong in spite of my doubts and failures. The welcome helps me to navigate life. The welcome helps me understand difficult portions of Scripture.
And I see God’s glory best in the welcome.