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!