Study Guide: The Squishing God

Sunday January 29, 2012 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Jesus is our hope of glory. But what does that mean? In this sermon, Greg talks about how we yearn to embrace and be fulfilled in life. He also talks about how we can surrender to God in order to be embraced.

Extended Summary:

Last week, we saw that our suffering filled up a lacking in Jesus’ suffering. Our suffering, that wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t following Jesus, is done to further the Kingdom work that Jesus started. It became a beautiful, symbiotic relationship where we became God’s co-workers. Christ is in us and is our hope of glory. But what does that mean?

To understand this hope of glory thing, we first ask the question “Why do we hug?” The hug symbolizes a yearning of the heart. We long and ache to be close to the thing that we are hugging, and the hug is the physical representation of that ache and subsequent satisfaction of physical proximity. We feel this ache because we’re made in the image of the triune God. The triune God perpetually yearn, embrace, and fulfill each other, and the early church fathers called this perichoresis. And God put this exact same desire in our hearts. We yearn and desire to know and be known.

We hug each other because we want to squish each other with our love. Greg’s adopted granddaughter was squished into a family by his daughter and son-in-law. The extended family then squished her with their love. She participates in the radiance of their family’s love. Jesus’ prayer in John 17 was that all followers of him would embrace each other and squish each other as much as the trinity did to each other. He wanted his followers to participate in the very same love, and consequently, the same glory that exists in the triune God.

This is the mystery finally being revealed. For ages and generations, creation has been alienated from God and spiritually oppressed. For ages and generations, we’ve held jaded pictures of God, and we’ve assumed that God is “up there” and is waiting to squish us for doing wrong. Yet, God revealed himself in Jesus Christ, a fellow human being. Instead of squishing us from above for doing wrong, Jesus squished us with the love of the triune God through the resurrection and hope of participating in the perichoresis today and forever.

Why is this so hard to believe? Why do we find it so easy to refuse to ascribe our level of love to him? We love our kids and grandkids even when they’re naughty. We still want to squish them with every ounce of strength we can muster. And compared to God’s love, our love is an ant hill next to Mt. Everest. Surrendering to this love is how we allow God to squish us.

This squishing that God wants to do to us is much more than a theological concept. It is a reality that has the power to completely transform us. When we are a co-worker with Christ, we not only work alongside Christ but we are energized to do the work by Christ. We are energized by Christ like an exploding dynamite stick. To reflect God’s love as it is in the perichoresis, we need the energy of God in our lives. This energy comes from the Holy Spirit sent by Christ. Our surrendering to God invites the Spirit into our lives and begins the transforming work within us. We must quit relying on our own energy and begin to rely on the Spirit daily.

This involves three steps. We must first confess that we are helpless when left to our own resources. We may be able to survive, but God has plans to allow us to participate in his glory and live. The second step is to thank God that he has not left you to yourself and acknowledge that Christ is in you. Finally, ask God to help you end your self-reliance and instead to embrace Christ’s energy. This will allow God to unleash the power and energy of the Trinity into your life and everyday activities. You’ll be squished into the work and love of the triune God.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. When you think about being loved by God, what stops you from embracing God’s love fully?
  3. We often perform good deeds thinking that will stop God from squishing us from above. Do you ever feel like God is trying to squish you from above? How does knowing he wants to squish you like a grandparent change your thoughts on performing for him?
  4. Surrendering is a difficult concept in our culture. How does surrendering to God’s love benefit you?
  5. Think of a time in your day when you can take 5 minutes and dwell on God’s love for you. Where is this location? What brings you closer to God and how can you incorporate it into this location?