God isn’t nice. He is so much more.
My wife came to me recently with some questions about her time in the Bible. She brought up a couple of passages in the Old Testament that were frankly, a little bit difficult to understand. There were some passages that seemed to make God seem…not so nice. This is certainly a different picture of God than we are used to seeing in the many church services, songs, and books that shape our view of the Almighty.
During our conversation, we came to the conclusion that we were going to pursue God on His terms. Rather than shaping God into our image, what would it be like to approach Him as He is? With that in mind, we were forced to admit something. God, as He presents Himself in the entire Bible, is not nice. (but He is kind)
“Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
NICE VS KIND
Let me do my best to explain the difference. When I think of someone who is nice, I think about a person who is well-mannered, well-spoken, cautious, & non-controversial. To put it bluntly, I think of someone who has been tamed. Make no mistake, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, as CS Lewis beautifully points out - has NEVER been tamed. When I think of someone who is kind, I think of a person whose actions flow from a deep place of love.
There is a lot of conversation right now about why men are leaving the church. I don’t think it’s because we play emotional music, let our kids play outside less, or let women teach Sunday school. I think it’s because we’ve attempted to tame the character of God in order to present a nicer picture of Him. Most men are not compelled by an invitation to become more nice. However, when we embark on a journey to see God in all of His glory, fury, majesty, and might, men and women alike will be stirred to the core.
God is not ours — we are His.
Without this understanding, we will never fully grasp the whole Gospel. Here are the things that we repeat often –
- God is Love (true)
- God is merciful (true)
- God is close to the broken hearted (true)
- God is for you, not against you (depends)
- God doesn’t want you to suffer (really? then why did He tell lots of His servants that their lives would be marked by suffering in this present life?)
Here are the things we often ignore –
- God saved Noah, but wiped out an earth full of evil
- God hates sin… A LOT. When a sinful thing even approaches His presence, that thing dies. Quickly.
- God is kind of scary. When people got close to Him in the Bible, they rarely raised their hands in worship. They almost always fell to their faces trembling.
FIERCE + KIND
These two ideas (FIERCE + KIND) are not contradictory. They are the two essential pieces of the Gospel. Because God is fierce, His burning anger for sin has to go somewhere. The bible teaches that it is directed at you – the sinner. If you die in your sins, you will face the full brunt. Because God is deeply kind, He still wants a relationship with sinners – sinner like you. So where does all of that anger go for those who want to know and be known by God? What about all that fury, passion, and white-hot glory? Who paid that price?
God did. Think about this for a minute. Picture an angry God, at the end of days, ready to condemn you for all of your offenses. He created the cosmos. You can barely stand the heat of His presence. He holds your fate in His hands. This is your moment of reckoning. What will stand between His wrath and your life? Jesus.
But [Jesus] was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.Isaiah 53:5
GLORY + GRACE
If you forget the glory of God, you will never truly comprehend His grace. When you fully understand what you deserve, you can finally appreciate how you’ve been spared. That’s the key to deeper love and devotion. That’s real Christianity.
Chase the full picture of your creator. Read the parts of the Bible that are hard to digest, realizing that Jesus is the only centerpiece between God and man. Don’t be afraid…scratch that. DO be afraid, and pursue Him anyway. The world is full of tame, man-made gods. These idols can’t hurt you, but they also can’t protect you. By pursuing the true God, you become part of His family. Then all of His fury and all of His glory are on your side when it comes time for Him to shield you. That’s the God I want to know. That’s the God I love.
“This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.”Psalm 18:30 ESV
to find out more about our church planting journey in Portland, Oregon visit pastoraaronbennett.com