“This is the answer they gave us: ‘We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished.’“
-Ezra 5:11 (NIV, emphasis my own)-
No one knows the fullness of God. He’s too big for us to get all of. And that’s wonderful, because it means that we will never run out of things to love about Him, and we will never get bored with Him because we’ve found out everything about Him, and He will always know better than us and make the best decisions for us. But just because we can’t know every characteristic of God doesn’t mean we shouldn’t know as much as we can, and a lot of people tend to tailor God to be only what they perceive Him to be. But you do not define who God is…He defines who you are. These Israelites in the book of Ezra knew that—they acknowledged that God is God of heaven AND earth. It’s easy to get stuck on God only reigning over one or the other, but He is King over all of it. And we’ve got to check ourselves and make sure that we’re serving Him as Lord of both, and not one or the other.
Are you serving the God of heaven, but not of earth? When you see God as Lord of heaven, and not also of earth, He becomes unreachable. You forget that He wants an intimate relationship with you. Because you’ve forgotten this, you attempt to live all of life on your own, and never feel strong, confident, or rested, because the world’s relentless attacks are deterred only by the power of the Holy Spirit. God becomes a distant idea that should be adhered to because it is somehow for the greater good (though you’re not really sure how). When God is not the God of earth, you’re left on your own. You can’t know anything for sure. But God IS the God of earth, and we CAN know Him. You don’t have to sustain your own joy, or fight for peace in your heart, or find impossible strength within yourself. The Holy Spirit does those things for you, when you acknowledge that God is King over all the earth and become His servantin the things that you do and the way that you love others. He is near to you, and you can know Him, and He is actively moving in your life, and He has not abandoned the world to wait for its destruction but is in the world changing it through His people, who even today are “rebuilding the temple” all across the world.
Are you serving the God of earth, but not of heaven? When you see God as Lord of earth, and not also of heaven, He becomes “man-centered,” existing for your benefit rather than His own glory. You forget that He is all about Himself—and how could He not be? If God is perfectly good, would it not be unloving to the universe for Him to not make much of Himself? Because you’ve forgotten this, you find no satisfaction in simply who God is and rather seek an ever-elusive experience in which your own desires are quenched indefinitely. But earthly events are not eternal, and until you are satisfied in the being of God, you will never be able to sustain an awe and appreciation of the doing of God. Your faith in God is dependent on your feelings towards God, and you feel rejected or abandoned by Him when things don’t go the way you wanted them to. He becomes seen as a slot machine that you keep pouring your treasures into, not because you want Him to have them, but because you want the slots to line up and get a big reward back. When God is not the God of heaven, there is nothing greater to live for than what you can see and understand, and the sense of His glory and majesty is lost. But there IS something greater to live for, and His glory and majesty IS worth our sacrifice. There IS more to life than what you and I can see, and God is in control of all of it. And it is Him alone who is able to satisfy our souls for all eternity. He is enough for you, and His glory is worth losing your life over.
God is lord of everything, everywhere, all the time. Don’t let your sight determine His might. The limitations you put on Him in your mind don’t keep Him from being all that He is, but they do keep you from seeing all that He is.