If anyone has ever been to Cloverdale, you understand just how small a town it really is. (Although I have to admit the town I live in here in West Virginia is only half the size of even Cloverdale, and I kind of like it that way.) However, on Friday night, the church was packed. Folks found out about the meetings and came from all over Northern California to crowd into this little church. One family shared they had driven for over three and a half hours to come.
Well, we started Friday night with my most recent passion: the evidence for rational, thinking intelligent people to believe Jesus was who He claimed to be. And then asking the question: what type of person did Jesus reveal God to be? Compare that to everything we’ve ever been told about this Being we refer to as “God.”
Wow! What a bang! Some weekends you wonder whether you made any contact whatsoever with people’s heads and hearts, but this weekend it was obviously clear! As we left the evidence for Jesus and began to look at what exactly is the character of God as revealed by His birth, teachings, death and resurrection, the lights came on! Many testified that they felt like they were seeing God, the God the Bible calls “love,” for the very first time. It was astounding. Many also testified that there were quite a few questions that had been gnawing at their hearts and their faith that also became answered for them as well. We ended with two presentations: 1) if God is like Jesus paints Him to be then, why all the suffering on this strange planet; and 2) Jesus’ own explanation of what His sacrifice on Calvary was all about.
As I walked out to my rental car after everyone was gone, I just sat there in the driver’s seat for a moment and took it all in. When one really begins to see God for what He truly is, He simply is breathtakingly beautiful. Forget everything you’ve ever been taught about Him and look at Him through the lens of Jesus, and what you’ll find is that not only is He completely different from everything you were ever told, but in entering into a relationship with Him, the longings of the human heart—our longings for love, for hope, for significance and for happiness—finally find their fulfillment. As I sat there pondering God’s love for the people who showed up that weekend in Cloverdale and the people’s responses to the love, I was overwhelmed again with the thought that
May God usher us all into His amazing grace, His extravagant love, and the beauty of intimate friendship with Himself. Amen.