The “Extended” Version

“God has made a very simple, but very important promise. He said, “You will seek and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). God wants to be found by you.” (The Economy of the Soul, pg. 53)

It’s hard to find something when you aren’t really looking for it. There’s a natural spiritual longing in the human heart, the veritable buffet of religions and belief systems demonstrate that. We know somewhere deep inside that we need God. Where we run into problems is when we look for Him. Most people aren’t really looking for God.

God’s promise is that we will find Him when we seek Him with all our heart. Oftentimes we will seek with all our heart a version of God that seems good to us. We’ll seek the Jesus that heals when we’re hurting. We’ll look for the Jesus that is kind and compassionate and who accepts us as we are when we are lonely, but we avoid the part of him that convicts us of sin when we are wrong, who overturns the tables and makes us uncomfortable, or rejects the wicked. We are okay with the grandfatherly God who sits in the clouds and lovingly meets all our needs, but we reject the God who wiped the earth clean by flood or destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone and plans on judging humanity – you – sooner than we’d like. We want a god who will give us our best life now, not a God that refines us for eternity.

My family loves the Lord of the Rings movies. We’ve watched the theatrical editions all together, but the extended editions are clearly the best. They cut scenes out of the movie that, for whatever reason, they felt didn’t need to be there. What we’ve discovered is that the movies are far better with those scenes in there, as they were originally supposed to be. And even better than the movies is the book by Tolkien because it has every detail the story was intended to have. You wind up with fuller, richer, better story.

We edit God to make Him easier to understand and to live with (or control), but then we never really find Him. We are no longer seeking God himself, but a reflection of ourselves – an idol. What you will discover is that when you wrestle with the perplexing, frightening, difficult aspects of God you get the whole story and your life of faith gets even better. You don’t have to defend God, prove God, or justify Him. You are to seek Him, to know Him deeply, and to love Him for who He is. When you edit God you violate the integrity of His word and witness. The Pharisees edited God and limited Him to a judge of external obedience to the Law. Jesus came and taught that God desires a pure heart – obedient to the Spirit of the Law – over external obedience to the letter of the Law. The fuller understanding leads to a whole and more abundant life.

You have been offered abundant life. Don’t settle for less by limiting God to what you can understand, to what little you’ve experienced, or to what you are comfortable with. Seek God for who He is and let yourself wrestle with Him over the hard stuff. God is good, and God is holy. God is forgiving, and God is just. God is Savior, and God is Judge…and He is much more than that. Go seek the full, extended version. It’s way better.

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