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For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you.
Psalm 71:5-6 (NIV)

My earliest memories of God are from a dream where God was a big kid wearing a striped tee shirt. God was my playmate, friend, and big brother. He was the older kid who becomes like a little kid to hang with his younger brother. I liked this view of God, but it has been difficult to sustain.

The years have taught me that our early and innocent views of God can be damaged, distorted, or destroyed. Those occasions when I felt God punished too hard, left me unprotected, or failed to give me what I needed damaged my view of God. I stopped trusting him.

Those moments when I placed too much importance on pleasing people distorted my understanding of who he was and what he wanted from me. I listened more to what people said about God, than what he said about himself in the Bible. My view of God was based on assumptions and misconceptions rooted in religious tradition rather than the truth of scripture.

Before my relationship with God could be damaged or distorted it was almost destroyed. It was during my middle school and teen years that my relationship with God was almost destroyed. I began to think that God and the practice of Christianity was about the pursuit of the good rather than the great.

Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great.

Jim Collins (Good To Great)

I never wanted a good life. I have always wanted a great life. Sometimes these ambitions were selfish, and at other times unselfish, but in every case I wanted to do something great. The only failure in life I could fathom was that of being ordinary, typical, or forgettable.

Growing up in the late sixties and seventies I like others was surrounded by living history. The memories my parents shared with me as well as the events to which I was exposed were of greatness. John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert F. Kennedy. The fight for justice and the rights of oppressed people. The fight against corruption typified by Watergate. The music of the Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, and the collective voices of Woodstock bringing meaning and voice to the pain and passion of people who wanted to make a difference in the world. The world in which I was coming of age seemed to have potential for greatness in every corner, and then there was church.

Church was merely good not great, and as a result that was how I saw God. God was good, but he wasn’t’ great, which made it difficult for me to want a relationship with Him. I wanted to do great things with my life, and from what I could see He would only get in the way.

You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.

Psalm 18:35

Christianity didn’t become attractive to me until I could see that God was great. I didn’t have time for or interest in a God who was boring, uninvolved, or that lacked ambition. This is why I didn’t give God a second thought until I met people who saw God as great. These were people who weren’t satisfied to be religious churchgoers wrapped up in old-fashioned traditions. They were exciting rather than boring. They weren’t stuck in the past but focused on the future. They weren’t ordinary, typical, or forgettable. They wanted to change the world.

When God is unattractive we have allowed something or someone to distract us from the truth about Him. This doesn’t mean we can or should blame people. Our view of God is our responsibility. We have to make certain that what we believe about God is true. Charlie and I had to experience breakthroughs and discoveries to find out the truth about God. The same is true for anyone who wants a healthy and inspiring relationship with God. In fact, along with Charlie and me, anyone who wants this type of relationship with God will have to devote his or her whole life to this pursuit.

What about you? What kind of relationship with God do you have? What kind of relationship with God do you want? Are you willing to tackle the core reasons why you might find God unattractive, and change those views? Can you expand your imagination and dream of a God who is both irresistible and attractive? Don’t be afraid, keep reading, and let’s begin!

The preceding article is an excerpt from the book, When God Isn’t Attractive by Russ Ewell

Written by

Stone Eleazer

Stone Eleazer is the director of operations at the Bay Area Christian Church, and is an editor for BACC Inspire.