Thursday, 20 June 2013

Putting God into a box (Part 1)

Have you ever had one of those experiences where someone thinks they know you but they're completely wrong? Or they don't understand you fully and as a result they make conclusions about you as a person? Isn't it frustrating? I can't think of a specific example from my life, but I've certainly seen it happen to people around me.

It happens to God all the time. We think we know him and understand him and we make certain conclusions about him because of it.

But who is God? Many different christians would have many different answers to the question (and a number of non-christians would have different answers also). Here are a few popular options, most of them contain a pinch of truth (Satan loves doing that) hand some are blatant lies.

  1. God is love. He is entirely loving and cares for everyone. He wants everyone to be saved and really wishes everyone would turn to him.
  2. God is some distant creator who has no effect on the world. He cannot be known by us.
  3. God controls everything and is unconcerned with people on earth.
  4. God is vengeful and just and will punish everyone who does wrong (but not me, since I'm not as bad as the other guy.)
Lets just say to begin, none of these are right. 

One thing I've noticed in the few years I've been alive is that we easily and often put God in a box. We take what we like about him and we leave out bits which make us squirm, denying them or explaining them away. We read a passage of scripture which describes God's wrath on all who don't follow him and we subtly delete it from our minds. We don't take note of it. We try to ignore that we do this, try to deny those bits of God. Why? Because we want to make God into what we want him to be. 

Maybe it's not even as obvious as this in your life. Maybe it's far more subtle. For me it's often accepting that something is true but then not acting on it. Or not thinking about it and sorting it out and just letting it slip from my memory. We need to take time to Know God for who he is, not who we want him to be.
Exodus 3:14a
God said to Moses, “I am who I am.

Hold up a second. Take note of that. God is who he is. Nothing we think, say or do can change that. So why do we bother? Why deny God and make an idol for yourself in his place? He won't change just because you want him to. So what is God like?
  • God is perfect (1 John 1:5, Matthew 5:48), 
  • He is holy (1 Peter 1:15), 
  • He is just (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9, Psalm 25:8), 
  • He is pure (Proverbs 30:5), 
  • He is faithful and truthful (Psalm 145:17, John 14:6), 
  • He is patient (2 Peter 3:9), 
  • He is compassionate (John 14:26), 
  • He is loving (1 John 4:8-10, John 3:16), 
  • He is kind (Ephesians 4:32, Psalm 34:18), 
  • He is merciful and gracious (Deuteronomy 4:31, Luke 6:36, 1 Peter 1:3, Isaiah 30:18, Psalm 145:8 and many more), 
  • He is good (Psalm 136:1). 
  • He created everything (Genesis 1, Job 38-40)
  • He is righteous (Psalm 145:17),  
  • He is in control (Proverbs 19:21, Romans 8:28, etc), 
  • He is all-powerful (Psalm 62:11), 
  • He is all-knowing (Psalm 139, Psalm 137:5), 
  • He is eternal (Psalm 90:2)
  • He reigns over all of creation (Psalm 47:8, Psalm 146:10) and 
  • He is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17).
Do you squirm at any of those things? Do you truly believe them? Or do you find that you just skip over some. Maybe you don't like being in control. Maybe you don't like that God is just and will punish sinners. 

If that's you, then maybe you don't understand God and you have made an idol in his place. Its certainly something which I struggle with.

Do you know God for who he truly is?


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