“You’ve restored my faith in God”

In one of my favourite TV detective series, a lady who’s been badly hurt by men in the past is deeply impressed by the genuine kindness and respect shown to her by the Detective Chief Inspector. After watching him in action she begins to realize there really are men out there who have huge regard for women and would never do anything to exploit or hurt them. It was an eye-opener for her. She could no longer justify her hatred of men.

Toward the end of the program she writes him a letter in which she says in effect, “You’ve restored my faith in men.” It’s very touching, because the actions of this one man had begun a healing process in her mind that hopefully will free her to love a man in the future.

And isn’t that our great wish in preaching the gospel, that people tell us, “You’ve restored my faith in God,” because they discover in the gospel that God is exactly what they hoped him to be, that he truly is merciful and kind, and nothing like the God they grew up with, who threatens people with hell and watches our every move in readiness for Judgment Day. To free a person of such awful images of God is what the gospel is for, so that people come to know God as he really is, and it frees them up to love him.

That’s because the gospel is GOOD news about God. It’s not the typical view that religion has of him, that he’s only pleased by perfect behaviour and endless boring rituals, or by building impressive places of worship at great cost to the worshippers. When Paul met people who believed in gods like that in Acts 17, he told them a story. He told them that when God made people and placed them on the planet where he wanted them, that was all they needed to have a relationship with him, verses 26-27. He doesn’t need us to build temples and religions to find him, verses 24-25, because he’s already built it right into our own heads to seek him, reach out for him and find him, verse 27. It’s part of our very make-up to live and move and have our being in him, because we’re his children, and deep down we know it, verse 28.

But how does that become real to people? By the relentless preaching of God’s enormous kindness and high regard for us humans in the gospel. It starts a healing process in people’s minds, that hopefully, one day, frees up every human being to say with feeling, “You’ve restored my faith in God.”

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