Let me describe 3 TOTALLY different people... at least they seem totally different but if you sat them down to talk to them, you'd realise they all have one thing in common...
1. Left God Behind
When you sit down and chat to this person, it's clear they are ready to enjoy life, they left God behind a long time ago. They may or may not believe that God exists - but whether he does or not, it just doesn't matter a whole lot! This person has broken free from rules and lives life their way. They have no time for religion, life is theirs to live.
2. God Fearers
These guys have a healthy respect for 'God'. They don't know much about God and they have no idea what God makes of them either! They consider themselves religious but don't do much religious 'stuff'. There is one thing that gets their prayer life going - that's when trouble comes. If there is a sickness or an emergency within the family, they will pray their socks off. They never have confidence that God listens to them but they try hard anyway.
3. Religious People
These people know who God is, they go to church 3 times a week, they say their prayers and read their Bible. They do loads of religious 'stuff' and often end up being in some type of position of responsibility within a church. But they can be pretty hard, they can look down on the other two groups, they can actually be really judgemental.
As these 3 people sit in front of you they look so different, yet they all have the same problem... their view of God is messed up.
God isn't irrelevant, he isn't some distant genie who only pops out when trouble comes nor is he some judgemental God that wants to thump people the first chance he gets.
He is the God who created and loves us. He is the God who punishes sin and wrong-doing but yet is filled with compassion even for those who do wrong.
The thing is, there is a 4th Seat...
... a place to see the Creator God become creature, a place to see God's punishment on sin and also his compassion on sinners. That 4th seat is at the foot of the Cross. Where Jesus hung, where punishment and compassion met...
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