How Big Is Your God? (What Complexity Reveals)

At Gateway Church in Austin, we continued our series called “How Big Is Your God?

Ted Beasley shared at the Northwest Campus (McNeil), and I shared at the South Campus. Here are some of our thoughts:

“What would you say your relationship status with God is today?

  • It’s the best it’s ever been.
  • It’s okay – not bad but not that good.
  • It’s complicated.

So we are left with this verse from Romans 8:28: ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’.  The next verse goes on to say that God is working a master plan.  Everything you’ve ever gone through, everything you’re in the middle of right now, it’s bending in this beautiful arc toward something good.  And that verse either makes you want to rejoice in hope or it makes you want laugh.  How is this difficult moment possibly going to be worked together for good?

Today’s message is about faith and hope. It’s about trusting in the goodness and power of an invisible God, knowing that the events unfolding before you this instant have to be judged, not now, but once you arrive at the destination he has planned for you.

God is not complicated, but He is complex.  He has an unexpected way of weaving the disparate pieces of your life into a gorgeous patchwork of grace.

There are unseen layers to God’s wisdom and his orchestration of the notes and melodies of your life.

The story of Job is a roadmap for faith, because, as Job teaches, God is much more interested in your faith than in you experiencing a life free from hardship and frustration.

Disappointment is the kryptonite of faith.

The book of Job is 41 chapters long.  Chapters 3-37 are basically one long dialogue about why Job suffers.  All of the plot, however, is contained in chapters 1-2.

Job 1:6-12: ‘One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.” Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”  The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD‘.

Do you believe in God because of the blessings He brings – answered prayer, heaven, a good way of living?  Or do you follow God because he is true and real?  Do I really trust God, even when life crumbles?

Job’s friends aren’t much help. After their initial silence, they begin to try to explain why Job his suffering. For 33 chapters they argue with Job that he must have done something wrong in order to deserve his destruction.

Job doesn’t know the big picture of what he’s experiencing. He only knows that his life is caving in and he has done nothing to deserve it.  Job can either curse God for what is happening or he could confess that he has done something wrong to deserve all of this. Instead, he chooses to be honest with God.

Job 14:18-20: ‘But as a mountain erodes and crumbles and as a rock is moved from its place, as water wears away stones and torrents wash away the soil, so you destroy man’s hope. You overpower him once for all, and he is gone; you change his countenance and send him away. 

Job 30:20-21: ‘I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me’.

Perhaps the greatest lesson of Job is a lesson in how to deal with the kryptonite of disappointment with God. From Job we learn that we can rightfully bring to God whatever we feel about Him.  It is in the very act of wrestling with God that our faith is proven.

In no way does God condemn Job’s doubt or his despair, instead he takes issue with Job’s speaking out of ignorance. God’s message for Job is this: until you know more about running the physical universe, don’t tell me how to run the moral universe.  Job couldn’t see the higher purpose.  He wasn’t aware that Satan was the one causing his calamities.  The story ends with Job repenting of assuming too much about God.

In response to Job’s faithfulness, God restores to Job double of everything he had before it was all taken away.  His health, his family, his happiness, but Job never gets his answer to the question why.

We don’t know the whole picture, we see only with a limited point of view.  We assume that God has left us behind or is unsympathetically allowing tragedy to befall us. In Job’s case, God was letting his whole reputation ride on the response of a single human being.  At the moment when God seemed most absent to Job, he had never been more present.

Romans 8:28 – The way your life works together is for the good, but it’s complex. God, too, is complex, sometimes beyond your human understanding.  Someday, when you see him face-to-face, you’ll have your answers, but for now we must all deal with a little kryptonite from time to time.

No matter who you are or where you’ve been or what you’ve done or even what you will do in the future, God’s feelings for you will never be complicated.

Romans 8:31-39: ‘If I am for you, who can be against you? I did not spare my own Son, but gave him up for you — and if I was willing to do that, how will I not also graciously give you all things? Who shall separate you from the love my love? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  No, in all these things you are more than a conqueror.  For you can be convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus your Lord‘.”

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