Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Our Relationship With God Is Complicated

Photo by L. Jones
Fitting God Inside A Box

People try to fit God inside a box and make Him what they want to be for their lives. Let's take for example God's attribute of love. People like to take this one specific attribute about God and then draw conclusions about their own personal situation. They will say (or at least think) such statements as "Well, I know I'm being disobedient in my walk with Christ right now, but that's OK. God loves me in-spite of my rebellious tendencies."

Or, some hyper-critical Christians will swing in the total opposite direction and dwell on the attributes of the holiness of God and His judgment. Even as I write this statement, Pastor Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church come to mind as misguided Christians who want to make hate-filled speeches and protests, thinking they're doing God a favor by speaking out on all of the great sins of the United States. Unfortunately, they aren't helping God or Christianity by their words or actions. They are so focused on those specific attributes of God, and they fail to balance them out with God's other characteristics.

You Have To Take All Scripture Into Account

Is God a loving God and merciful to us regarding our sin? Yes, according to the Scriptures, we can see that our God is a loving and forgiving God. Is God a holy God who hates sin and punishes people for that sin? Yes, He most definitely is a holy God who hates this sins of mankind and brings punishment upon those that He wants to punish for that sin.

We cannot fit God into a box regarding specific attributes of His nature. He is a lot more "complicated" than that. He is God, and we're not. In his book Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, Mark Dever writes this regarding God's nature:
We can summarize the main story line of the Bible simply under five words; this what the Bible teaches us about God: that He is creating; that He is holy; that He is faithful; that He is loving; and that He is sovereign...(p. 59).
We must understand God by His revelation of Himself, not by our own hunches, not by our own wishes, not by the way we like to think of God. Too often today we speak as if evangelism were advertising and explain the Spirit's work in terms of marketing. Some even talk of God Himself as if He were made in the image of man, rather than the other way around...
...We are at our most dangerous point spiritually when we think everything is fine. We need to know that God is entirely right to condemn us forever. And we need to know that God in Christ has offered us another way, if we rely not on our own righteousness and our own goodness and merit but on Christ and on Christ alone. That is when we find the way to peace with God (p 73).
Are You Trying To Place God In A Box?

So, are you guilty of placing God and His nature into a specific "box?" Have you even really given it that much thought? Given people's specific personalities and/or tendencies, we can all tend to focus in on one or two of His characteristics that speak to us, our lives, our sin, and our situation.

Obviously, in today's world, I think a lot of us like to dwell on God's love and His nature to forgive. Because of our own unique battles with the flesh, we tend to assuage the guilt of our sin and the fear of God's punishment in our lives through focusing on His love for us. While His love for us and His faithfulness to us will never fail, we must also be reminded that we serve a holy and sovereign God as well. There should be a "holy fear" and respect of God's sovereignty over our lives.

Man's relationship with God is complex, and we must take into consideration a full knowledge and understanding of what the entire Word of God, from Old Testament to New Testament, teaches about His nature. Don't get hung up on one specific attribute of God, and certainly don't try to squeeze Him down inside a box of your choosing.

Also, check out these related posts:

No comments:

Post a Comment