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A bilingual and bicultural Christian young adults blog //////////////// 青年華裔基督徒的博客

The Extremity of God

Brad

A few years ago I visited San Francisco for the first time. Besides being a fascinating city, there was something else that struck me. It was something that I read one afternoon in Starbucks as I was waiting for my coffee. I was looking at a specialty mug that they were selling, featuring some general information about the city. On the mug was listed the average temperatures of San Francisco in both January and July, and it read something like this, “Average temperature in January: 14 degrees Celsius. Average temperature in July: 16 degrees Celsius.” “What?” I thought to myself. “Two degrees – that’s it?” Apparently it is never hot, it is never cold, it is always just somewhere in between.

In a strange way, on a spiritual level, God hates San Francisco. Not the city, not the people, but the temperature.

In Revelation 3:15-16, Jesus says to a group of Christians: “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water … I will spit you out of my mouth!” “Wow, that’s a little extreme,” I thought to myself as I read it.

Then I read in Matthew 14:25-33 about Jesus walking on water, and inviting His friend Peter to come join Him. Peter does, and then gets a little scared because, well really, he’s walking on water, and because of His fear he starts to sink. So Jesus picks him up, and says “What‘s your problem, Pete, why did you doubt?” “Wow, that’s a little extreme,” I thought to myself. “If I walked on water – for any amount of time – I would hope for a little better reaction from Jesus than that!”

I could bring up more examples, but let’s stop and ask the question: Why does Jesus have such high expectations? Why such extreme demands?

As I was pondering this, something that I had taught a group of kids a while ago was brought to mind. I had asked for a volunteer, and a boy around eight or nine years old volunteered to come up and help me. He was not that tall, maybe four feet or so, and I asked the kids if they thought that this boy could reach up and touch a particular wooden beam that was attached to the ceiling, about eight feet off the ground. “If you lift him he can!” they shouted at me. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed, because that had been my whole point, and I was hoping they wouldn’t catch on so fast! And sure enough, when I lifted him up, he did what would have otherwise been impossible for him, and he touched the beam. And it was obvious to all that he didn’t touch the beam because of his jumping ability or his height. He touched it because of my height, my strength, my ability.

In the same way, this is what Jesus expects of us. A friend said to me the other day “God knows I’m trying my best.” To which I replied: “God is not interested in your best!” He was a little surprised. But my best, regardless of how good it is, still leaves me at 14 degrees Celsius, still leaves me sinking after a minute or so, still leaves me four feet short of the ceiling.

Why does Jesus have such high expectations? Why such extreme demands? Because He is not looking for our best in us. He is looking for His best, in and through us, as we trust Him. In John 15:5, Jesus says: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit; for without Me, you can do nothing.” Jesus is saying that He is the Person who supplies Life, and the ability to work, relax, have peace with God and others, be useful in our circumstances, and touch the ceiling when necessary. Not us.

I looked up the definition of the word “extreme”, and this is what I found: “of a character or kind farthest removed from the ordinary or average”. And this is Jesus: the Creator of the universe, offering to 14 degree Celsius, four-foot-tall, land-bound people His limitless creative power and ability to accomplish His purposes in everyday tasks and situations. To which I say: “Wow, that’s a little extreme.”

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Welcome

"Double-edged"is bilingual blog in affiliation with Truth Monthly, a Chinese Christian monthly print publication based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

This blog features mostly original writings as well as comics, poetry, and other works of art by local Christian young adults.

For more information or to submit your own writing, please email tm.double.edged@gmail.com

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