Thursday, January 26, 2012

My God's Bigger Than Your God

Has God become so common He is no longer holy? Relational theology, our attempt at knowing and relating to God, has changed throughout the years. The change has come when people gravitate toward one aspect of God’s character more than the others. When you look at God through the wrong end of the telescope, instead of seeing the big picture you end up focused on limited features. In our eyes, God becomes less than who He really is.

 With the privilege of “knowing God” comes the task of not limiting Him to any one characteristic. I know that He is a loving God whose mercy endures forever. I know that He is a forgiving God who removes our sin as far as the east is from the west. I know that He is a faithful God who remains steadfast regardless of my own failings.

But to limit Him to any one of these, to make one characteristic the primary distinctive, I lose sight of the totality of who God is. He cannot be loving without being holy. He cannot be merciful without being just. He cannot be faithful without being sovereign. By picking a characteristic as “my favorite” I run the risk of offending rather than honoring God, by limiting His limitlessness.

You often hear Christians say they like the New Testament God more than the Old Testament God. In the New Testament God is loving, forgiving and actively pursuing a relationship with them. In the Old He is separating out the good from the bad, judging the actions of His people and punishing them accordingly. We see the New Testament God as being friendlier than the Old. We are drawn to friendliness.

But Hebrews says He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The Old Testament God is the same one in the New Testament and the New Testament God is the same one in the Old Testament. As difficult as it is to grasp, He was loving, merciful and faithful while at the same time holy enough to judge the actions of His people. Why can’t we see that? Why couldn’t the people back then see that? Perhaps it was the lack of understanding that it was because He loved them so much He was faithful to judge them. They failed to see that His intentions were good and right.

If we reverse the telescope and see the bigger picture we’ll see the God who desires relationship also has standards reflective of that relationship. Maybe the holiness by which He demonstrated His goodness is there for us to see. Maybe His actions were working all things together for good. And maybe the furnace by which He burned off the worldliness, was designed to purify not destroy.

Embrace God. All of God. Not just the parts that we like. Be assured there is more to God than we have yet discovered. By stopping too soon, or seeking only the parts we like, we may never discover how great He really is.

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