Friday, April 19, 2013
On God's Terms
When I was seventeen years old, I received a new Bible. For some reason, I thought it would be good to read through the entire book of Romans in one sitting. I had never before read all of Romans, but only individual passages. As I read, I found myself greatly encouraged, especially by the crescendo of grace found in Romans 8. But then I stumbled into Romans 9, and my joy departed. I saw, for example, that “God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refused to listen.” This was deeply distressing to me because it seemed to be so unfair, so arbitrary, so unlike the God revealed only a few verses earlier. In my distress, I actually stopped reading and never finished my project of going through the whole book of Romans. (Don’t worry. I have since read all of Romans, many times.)
I must confess, however, that I still don’t find everything in Romans to my liking. I would like God to be so much nicer. But my liking is not the point! Knowing God in truth is the point. And, not surprisingly, the real God is not the same as the god of my likes and dislikes. If I want to know this real God, then I must choose to receive him on his own terms.
This means that I must take seriously the passages of Scripture that I don’t like. I need to wrestle with them and their truth.I am always startled at how we presume to judge what God has said. Have you ever really thought about the sheer hubris involved in saying, "Oh that's not what that really means," when it comes to scripture? Who in the world are we to judge God's intent, or correct His grammar? What is it about us that makes us approach things in this fashion? I know, sin, but my reason just cannot get around the fact that He is God and I most certainly am not.
Maybe we need to start there. Maybe we need to start giving people a definition of God. Not church or anything else that stands between us and Him, but just God. I think once people get their head around the fact that this is no force to be trifled with they just might settle down a little.
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