Pity


These last few days, I seem occupied with a curiosity as to who God fully is.  I listen and read various theologians and contemporaries and see such distance at times in what is being acclaimed as truth about God.  Much of it actually seems appropriate, based on what I read in the scriptures, and have experienced personally.  Yet, such a wide spectrum of characteristics is now offered, with quite some paradox.  God is obviously beyond my comprehension.

He is a God of justice and yet full of mercy.  He is terrible in truth and yet compassionate, “as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” Ps. 103:13.

The more I think about God, my tendency is to conclude that all our best emotions and dreams reside in Him, yet our personal bents cause us to perceive only facets of His reality, tainting other truths with our own bias.  In fact, even gender I suspect is absent from “Him”, as He is a Spirit and just as with the angels, there is neither male nor female?  Now you know I have read William P. Young’s “The Shack.”  As to the maleness of Christ, that form was probably of necessity for the culture in which He first manifest himself?  Just a thought, and one that may have cost me audience?

I am pondering these things for several reasons.  One, as I said before, the broad range of description, attributes, and actions that are being communicated on God’s behalf in the current ministry culture, by men and women who truly love God.  A range from absolute grace and prosperity, with the only challenge in life being our identification with Christ, leaving little room for sickness or want; then, on the other end, are those with similar personalities to my own, who are puzzled by this doctrine of abundant grace, due to the observation of suffering and lack among so many devout believers in this country and others.

If we are in this window of grace, and those who know abundance truly are the salt of the world, we seem to have lost our savor in the midst of our abundance, given the downward spiral of our culture, the animosity toward Christ and the growing disenchantment with church and boon in atheism. 

I question our character as well, given the needs around us and the wealth gap we continue to propagate?  I believe in grace and have known prosperity in my own life, blessed well beyond what I deserve.  Yet, I know many whose heart for God is much richer than my own, who have less or are suffering physical need as I write!

With one group of believers, I find a tendency to feel sorry for folk, attempting to relieve all suffering among others, without regard for the personal change that might come about providentially in one’s life through their pain; a growth reinforced as good by scriptures like Romans 5:1-5.   My old friend, Oswald Chambers, deplored any sympathy that hindered the deep work of God which only tribulation could bring.

On the other end of the spectrum, my friends who have their good fortune intact, may offer only “boot strap” advice and minimal benevolence, often based on solely on their own need for tax write offs!  Of course a following of those with fixed incomes gathers nicely around them, threatened by the taxation necessary for the government to do what many churches have long since abandoned!  Okay, my own bias is sinfully evident!

Am I confused here, possibly not?  God is just, but also compassionate.  His justice is based on perfection and a commitment to our distinct and personal callings.  His compassion is anchored in perfect love, rather than sympathy and guilt.  He is about our becoming like “Him”, as we were created in His image.  Maybe the image He sees is our spiritual, our bodies being temporal and fitted for procreation and habitation of this globe, but only short term?

I conclude that a wise person will understand that our best attempts as humans to describe and “contain” God are flawed, and some collective of the best and elimination of extremes (my own writings possibly) is advised!  Read the Word, listen to your heart and walk the walk “He” in Christ has modeled!

2 thoughts on “Pity

  1. You at one point make reference to “the taxation necessary for the government to do what many churches have long since abandoned”. At risk of appearing to miss the broader point of you post, knowing God, I focus on this comment that grabs my attention. In my mind, it involves your ending comment regarding “Read the Word, listen to your heart and walk the walk “He” in Christ has modeled!” I know we are not called to be providence for others as I believe Chambers puts it, but I share your sentiment that the church does not appear to address the needs of the community (or the city) as Christ modeled for us in ministry. So I frankly believe government has stepped into the void to be “the source” for people at all levels of society and the church appears irrelevant. Having said all of that, I confess that when I take myself to task mentally and begin to think of what the church “should be doing”, I quickly feel overwhelmed. That level of strategy is beyond me and I assume others come to this realization as well. I have reasoned that we should feel overwhelmed because in thinking about Christian social service we likely take it as a problem for us to solve rather than an issue for which to seek and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit with absolute obedience as Christ did. I will confess I have not truly sought that level of relationship and do not want to engage in the self examination to determine why I have not. I assume this failing, multiplied by the many like me, contributes to the aforementioned void government fills. At this point confession comes much easier than repentance but I know confession without repentance does not mean much. May God penetrate the lukewarm comfort of lives like mine and draw us to the white hot experience of living the Gospel.

    1. Had I another life and in that life I became a full time pastor, I could only dream of a congregation full of men like yourself.

      Fortunate for humanity, the Lord has increased your tribe!

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