Monday, August 08, 2011

The God Who Understands that We Don’t Understand

If you read enough of my blog posts or spend anytime in one of my Bible classes, it becomes very evident that my worldview is heavily connected to an understanding of God’s nature that I believe is primarily communicated within Scripture.

Your view of God is the grid by which everything is connected- all your experiences, every relationship, your attitude, your choices, words, thoughts is shaped by your understanding of God.

In writing about these things- I hope I communicate the idea that has been a part of my spiritual understanding of who God is…. What is the key concept of God?

Some people begin with thoughts of God’s holiness. My guess is that there are fewer who do so- but I have always been impressed with R.C. Sproul’s testimony of coming to conversion through his meditation of God’s holiness. Meditation of God’s holiness is a valuable thing to do- the thrice Holy God- and the impossibility of contemplating what that actually means can help us better understand sin and the sacrifice needed to cover sin. The deeper your understanding of holiness- the more terms like ‘justification’ ring with depth and substance.

But there are two applications of holiness. The primary meaning is  absolute purity- totally without sin. A secondary (and important) application is ‘an alien nature’- something totally unlike us. Here is where holiness can actually work to separate us from God- His holiness is so contrary to our nature, that we are repelled…indeed terrified of the burning brightness of this purity.

If Holiness is your primary view of God, you are likely to see Him as the COSMIC COP- the rule keeper with a big billy club ready to ‘whack-a-mole’ your sin. Don’t misunderstand this- He IS HOLY- that holiness is a huge part of who He is- He did not create a moral law- HE IS THE MORAL LAW- but to just think of God in these terms does not communicate the total heart of who He is.

Some people see God as love. As the evangelical world has spread the gopspel- we see this aspect of God more and more. People refer to ‘the Good Lord’ and indeed He is. The Bible communicates God’s kindness in both the Old and New Testament. He is compassionate- gracious, forgiving, sacrificing- HE IS LOVE. “He that loves not, knows not God, for God is love. (I John 4:8)”

But there can be a problem if your key concept of God is love. If LOVE is your primary view of God, you are likely to see Him as a furry, warm BIG SANTA CLAUSE- never hard or tough. Granting all your desires and loving all people equally. The God of ‘no problem’. Is this a problem? Well- as much as God IS LOVE- we have a hard time understanding when Jesus says to the Pharisees- ‘you are of your Father the devil’- we miss that Jesus turned over the money changers table- we get discouraged as people in the Old Testament and New Testament get zapped by God for sin.
When I was teenager at a local baptist church in Birmingham, our pastor resigned one day. I was too young and removed to have any inkling about what happened. I was sitting on the last pew of the church that day- everyone had funneled out- and one elderly lady passed by.

“Ma’am”, I asked her, “Why did Pastor _______ have to resign?”

She responded without any pause…. “Well, son. He preached too much on God’s wrath, but never enough of God’s love.” And she walked out.

Even then- I had this sense that it was a lack of our understanding of God’s nature.

So is there a key view of God that encompasses all His attributes? Is there something we can grab hold of? Can we do it without violating the command to make no false images?

I say ‘YES’ and Jesus has lead us in this way from the beginning. Jesus addressed the Holy God of the Bible as ‘Father’. It is the fatherhood of God that helps us understand rules, wrath, love, and kindness. Even if we had a poor earthly Father- we still understand what the ideal Father would be.

Let me point out a few interesting side notes to this:

#1- There are very few (if any) examples of great fathers in the Bible. There are great men, godly leaders, warriors, servants, but not many are lifted up as great Fathers. Was David a great Father? Was Moses? Was Adam? Was Issac? Was Jacob? I think the best view of Fatherhood in the Bible are the parables that Jesus told and His relationship with God the Father.

#2 If we think of God as Father- it helps to balance all the mystery to His existence. We honor His authority, we yearn for His approval, we enjoy His love.

#3 and this is the important one- if God is our Father, what is our relevant age to Him? This is a strange one- but most people I meet see themselves a sophisticated adults- we are mature- the strong young man- looking eye to eye with our Father- the good Lord- and doing mostly what we need to do- speaking bold proclamations to God- and passing off as the good son building His kingdom….


What if we are really just toddlers, babbling and waddling, clinging to our blankies and pacifiers? Does that change things are far as our relationship?

I believe so… the toddler is interesting- starting to bow up- totally self absorbed- making messes of all kinds.

But the Father, always understands… He shakes His head with a smile.. He picks us up and loves us as He cleans up. He is stern yes…. For our good.. but His love is DEEP.

We think we are special as we dress up in His ties and act like a grown-up. Our daddy just chuckles…. And He RUNS to our rescue when we are threatened or hurt. We think we are running the world, and He is watching us stumble on a gravel path- letting us fall and get boo boos- cleaning the scratch, knowing that it is the only way to learn to walk.

I took my daughter one day to the zoo- she was so excited! As we went through the entrance- she saw these beautiful pink flamingos- and she stared at them- 2 minutes, 4 minutes- 6 minutes.

“Ok girl, let’s go see more stuff!”

“No daddy, these are so pretty!”

So I picked her up and we walked off- and she howled like I was kidnapping her- for about 10 seconds- until she saw the lions, tigers, elephants, and apes. She was so happy- she just didn’t understand- but as a father, I had to get her to the next part.

We don’t understand- but God understands that we don’t understand.

One more daddy story….

A friend of mine took his little boy to a neighbor’s pool. The boy had so much joy jumping into His daddy’s arms.. all in the shallows. After an hour or so- the little boy wanted to try the deep end.

“Will you hold me daddy?”

“Yes son I will”

It took a lot of courage, but finally that little boy jumped in his dad’s arms. The water was deeper than the boy’s feet could touch.

“I’m so scared, daddy!”

“It’s ok my son”

“But you are so slippery daddy, I’m having a hard time holding on to you.”

The father laughed.

“Don’t worry son, I am holding on to you.”

We don’t understand- but God understands that we don’t understand. And He loves us more than we can ever comprehend.

Please stop running from your Father, it is time to come home….. little child.

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