You displayed miraculous signs and wonders against Pharaoh, his officials, and all his people, for you knew how arrogantly they were treating our ancestors. You have a glorious reputation that has never been forgotten.
Nehemiah 9:10, NLT* (emphasis mine)
Many North American Christians are walking closely with God and growing in our faith. But to the watching world, even to many in (or leaving) the church, God’s glorious reputation has been forgotten, replaced by one that’s distorted. (Click to tweet.)
That makes me sad. No wonder people aren’t drawn to follow Him, when they don’t know who He is.
In context here, the returned Israelites have heard the Law read aloud, have confessed their corporate and individual sins and vowed to live God-honouring lives. Even when they’d forgotten the nuances of holy living, they remembered God’s mighty acts.
We don’t tell God’s stories: miracles in the Bible and our own personal encounters, large and small.
We don’t live in clear trust, in joy or peace. We’re bogged down by the cares of this world (some of which are heavy indeed). Respect for diversity (or fear of offending) keeps our faith low-key, personal and private.
But even Israel’s enemies knew God’s reputation. We can tell the stories without insisting others embrace them, and trust God to do what He will with our words.
We’ve given the wrong impression of God. Instead of a glorious reputation, He’s perceived as judgmental, carrying a big stick and waiting for an excuse to swing it. Or people think He’s helpless, because flashy miracles aren’t happening much in North America and the quieter miracles aren’t recognized or aren’t shared. Others think He’s confusing, because we can’t answer the deep pain questions and yet we’ve felt we had to be able to explain Him.
Holy and majestic God, God of power and tenderness, judgment and love, we don’t understand how Your character traits mesh together. Still, we know we can trust You. Forgive us for the part we’ve played in the damage to Your reputation. Remind us of who You are, of what You’ve done. Help us to live confident in You, to see and share what You do. Restore Your glorious reputation in the eyes of all the world, and in Your grace give us a part to play in that restoration. Not because we’re worthy, but because You are good.
A good song to focus our faith is “Our Great God,” by Todd Agnew and Rebecca St. James.
*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.