The Kind of God Who Appeals to Most People

kinnon —  February 25, 2010 — 10 Comments

Randy Alcorn points to this John Stott quote from Stott's The Cross of Christ,

The kind of God that appeals to most people today would be easy-going in his tolerance of our offenses. He would be gentle, kind, accommodating. He would have no violent reactions. Unhappily, even in the church we seemed to have lost the vision of the majesty of God. There is much shallowness and levity among us. Prophets and psalmists would probably say of us, "There is no fear of God before their eyes." In public worship our habit is to slouch or squat; we do not kneel nowadays, let alone prostrate ourselves in humility before God. It is more characteristic of us to clap our hands with joy than to blush with shame or tears.

In a 2nd Sunday of Easter sermon, one of my favourite preachers, Fleming Rutledge describes Job's response at the end of his story. She preached this,

…if God had answered Job in the way that we would expect, with soothing explanations and comforting reassurances, then the answer to the question, Is there a God beyond what we can imagine? would have to be, No. Anyone can imagine a God who does what we expect. The reason that so many people have complained that God’s answer to Job is no answer at all is that they want a God who fits their preconceptions. Job, however, is manifestly satisfied. The God who is really God has come to him and has revealed himself as the one who was already present, already at work before there was anyone to imagine him. God is the author of creation; the creation is not the author of God. This was revealed to Job by the living voice and presence of God’s own self. That was enough.

There is a wonderful link between the passage from Job and the Gospel lesson this morning. The disciple Thomas was not interested in hearing what the other disciples had to say about the Resurrection. Very much like Job, he refused to be satisfied until he got a personal response from the Son of God. If he didn’t get one, he would not believe. When Jesus therefore came and stood before him, Thomas hushed up in the same way that Job did, and for the same reason: God had revealed himself from a domain beyond the grave that Thomas could not have imagined for himself. The living Son of God had appeared to him personally,. Thomas’ response is the pinnacle of Christian affirmation, spoken in the highest language of the Bible: My Lord and my God. [emphasis added]

I am as guilty as anyone of wanting to worship a likeable God, a God I can understand. But that is not the God whose thoughts are not my thoughts and my ways are not His ways. The distance between His ways and mine; an order of magnitude beyond my comprehension. God cannot be put in a box or described in a book. He is.

I am reminded of the children in C.S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe who are afraid of Aslan when they first hear of him. When Lucy asks if he's "safe," Mr. Beaver replies, "Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he is good."

The incomprehensible God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit we Christians worship is anything but safe. But. He is Good!

kinnon

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

10 responses to The Kind of God Who Appeals to Most People

  1. After all, he’s not a tame lion.

  2. Sadly, Jason, as we both know, some people are convinced he is. Sigh.

  3. Like this line from Rutledge above; “Anyone can imagine a God who does what we expect.”

    Isn’t this a hair short of idolatry? Or does it just plain cross the line?

    Keep creating…it wakes people up,
    Mike

  4. Thanks, Mike. Great to hear from you. It's been a while, bro.

  5. Where’s the “Like” Button on this thing?

  6. Bill,

    Just wanted you to know I found inspiration in your words over at my blog.

    Peace
    Milton

  7. Thanks, Milton. Much appreciated. (And I always love your blog, read whatever you post, even if I don't comment enough.)

  8. “…from the end of the Book of Job to the end of the Tanakh, God never speaks again. His speech from the whirlwind is, in effect, his last will and testament. Job has reduced the Lord to silence. The book of Chronicles will repeat speeches the Lord made earlier…but He will never speak again.” ~ Jack Miles

    God is both likable and detestable…safe and dangerous. Every speech about God is ungodly in that, in the end, we no more know who he is than he does.

  9. “I’m increasingly uncomfortable with current images of God found in books and workshops that mix popular psychology with a theology wholly devoted to self-realization. I really don’t want a God who is solicitous of my every need, fawning for my attention, eager for nothing in the world so much as the fulfillment of my self-potential. One of the scourges of our age is that all our deities are house-broken and eminently companionable. In a society that emphasizes the limitless possibilities of the individual self, it comes as a strange freshness to be confronted by an unfathomable God, indifferent to the petty, self-conscious needs that consume us.” (The Solace of Fierce Landscapes, Beldon C Lane, 2007)

  10. My problem is I worship a God who was “tamed” on a cross, brutally executed by a “wild” humanity. And I believe it wasn’t “some people” who did this but “all people.”

What do you think?