The God-Shaped Hole .... or the God-Shaped WHOLE?
The Bible tells the story of a Pharisee named Nicodemus, and his coming to see Jesus. At night.
Most folks seem to opine that Nicodemus wanted some of what Jesus' followers had; if that were the case, he wouldn't have wanted anybody to see him go. If, on the other hand, he'd been going there to tell Jesus a thing or two, I imagine he'd have gone at high noon, and would've called CNN and the Jerusalem Times in, too.
I have always found a couple things fascinating about this passage. First is that it contains John 3:16, yet very few people in the church seem to know Who said John 3:16, and to whom was it actually said?
As respects what's arguably the most important verse in the Bible (can you say "the gospel in a nutshell?"), I'd think we'd all have that down pat.
The other fascinating thing about that passage is the exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus. For starters, after his late-night trek, Nick starts out by saying something along the lines of "You're some guy, man, all that stuff you're doing". Now I doubt that Jesus thought Nick came all that way just to blow some smoke at Him, so Jesus didn't even address that. He just told Nick that he must be born again.
That should have been hilarious! How on earth could Nick have possibly understood that term? To my knowledge, that's the first time it was ever spoken!
So Nicodemus tries unsuccessfully to integrate that statement into what he knows about obstetrics, and asks how that might be possible. I mean ... well .. you know what he meant.
Jesus' response, again, doesn't deal with what Nick said. Instead, He gives a dissertation about the wind blowing here and there, and being born of the Spirit as well as the flesh. And, the most important response, yet, from Nicodemus, follows: "How can these things be?"
Put another way: "I don't understand".
Now THERE'S a response Jesus would work with. Someone admitting he doesn't understand. So Jesus fills him in with some more goodies, including the first revelation of that fact that God gave His Son, that we might be saved by faith.
I was leading the "Serving God .. Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gifts" class this past Wednesday night, and I commented that we're taught a lot of conclusions (in the churches I've been in, at least), but not as much of the scripture behind them. That thought had led me some years ago to stop teaching "Lessons" and to start teaching "Bible" in my SS class. And I think it's made a big difference. I said we all know about eternal security and the priesthood of the believer and that Jesus is God, but we're a little less certain about where in the Bible it actually says those things.
Then, just as an example, I asked the question about John 3:16. Neither of the two guys in the room, knew.
So I gave a thumbnail view of my interpretation of the passage, and said something like "We've all hear about the "God-shaped hole in us, that only God can fill". I told them that my thought is quite the opposite of that; God has a place for us in His life, into which He invites us. And you know the shape we need, to fit in there.
God invites us to join Him in His eternal life, which is what really completes us. Being part of His life, His work, His family. He doesn't fill a place in us so we can be happy, He uses us to fill a place in His life, so we can be holy.
My getting saved never was about me. It was always about Jesus! He loved us, and the desire He has is to see US saved!
My thinking about such things even shades my thinking about verses like Romans 8:28. God isn't about the business of working things out to my design, but He's SURE working out things for the benefit of HIS purposes. And when I joined the family, so to speak, I cast off my own purposes, (think: crucify the flesh) and adopted HIS as my OWN.
I once heard a story about a man traveling through Tennessee, who saw hundreds of targets painted on trees, each with a bullet smack in the bullseye. He finally found out who'd done the shooting, and asked how far he'd done the shooting from. He said 200 yards. The traveler remarked that was awesome shooting. To which the backwoodsman said ...
"Nah .. not when you shoot first, and then paint the target." In our case, God has already painted our targets. We don't get to do that, but it's OK. He'll tell us where they are and where to shoot.
The other story ... which I told a couple posts ago .. is about the man who was an expert in sculpting elephants. Soap, wood, stone, whatever. When he was asked how he was so good at that, he said...
"Simple. I just chip away everything that doesn't look like elephant".
Well, to be the best fit into God's family, to be the most "at home" there, you know what our shape needs to be. But even that's OK ... God's a pretty good sculptor, if we'll let Him go to work on us.
At my age and size, I could use a new shape anyway. Chip away, God,