Category: God is good


The God who suffers

Listening to a lecture given by Tim Keller on suffering, and he states that “Christianity is the only religion with the audacity to claim that God suffered”. I thought that was both simple, and yet profound (yes I realize it is not original with him, never the less).  Why would God suffer?  Not just suffer in a general sense but in a very real very literal way, and for us.

 “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8 NKJV)”. How amazing.  God did not just suffer, but Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world, not destined, not a future tense but past, was slain.
Can you imagine what that conversation was like?  The Father and Son discussing creating man.  And perhaps the Spirit chimes in and asks, yes but what about when they rebel?  The Father none the less says, let us make man in our image, but Jesus you know what this means.  And in that moment the Son not only sees the future, the beating, the suffering, the death.  Not just a knowing or a feeling, but he in that moment experiences being slain.  For God is outside of time in the way we know it.  In that moment the spear pierces his side.  The nails puncture his hands and feet.  The thorns dig deep,into his brow, as the blood pours forth  and he says.  “Of course I will die for them.”

 

I can barely fathom it.  

Can you?  Can you imagine what that moment felt like?  The sense, being slain before we were created?  Can you imagine knowing that your kids would literally kill you before they were born, and yet deciding to give birth to them anyway.  Maybe thinking oh well by the time it happens I will be old and besides they will have done a few nice things here and there.  A couple of breakfasts of soggy cereal and cold pancakes in bed, a few hand drawn birthday cards.  I know they will be the death of me, but it will be worth it.  No I can’t imagine either let alone going thru with it.  But imagine what this really means, before the hugs and kisses, before the “I love you” before a single moment of joy, you will suffer and be slain, and only then will you be allowed to enjoy those few of your children that don’t spit in your face and curse your name.
If that’s not love I don’t know what is.
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Christ in Gethsemane (Christus in Gethsemane),...

Christ in Gethsemane (Christus in Gethsemane), oil painting by Heinrich Ferdinand Hofmann (Heinrich Hofmann). The original is at the Riverside Church (Riverside Church, New York City). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Working thru some things at the weekly men’s breakfast, the idea of God’s wrath came up.  We were looking at the fact that God is unchanging, and a couple of the guys who are newer to being disciples of Christ were asking about the God of the Old Testament vs. the God of the New Testament.  They had been given the idea that God pre the incarnation of Christ was mean, and punished and was full of wrath.  But now, since the life of Jesus, God is love.  Kind, loving, gentle, God is now different.

How can God be Loving and Wrathful?

So is God different?  Has he changed?  My Bible says he is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  So why the disconnect between the perception of what God was like in the Old Testament, vs God who is in the New Testament.  The one that created the biggest discussion is the wrath of God.
So did God stop being wrathfull after the crucifixion of Jesus?  First God released his wrath on Jesus when he was put on the cross.  When Jesus took my sin on himself, taking my place, he not only took my sin, my failure, but he also endured God the Father’s wrath.

Doesn’t seem to me God’s Wrath is gone

Secondly look at Revelation 6:16 which says “And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:”
That’s not the wrath of the Father, the Lamb is Jesus and His wrath is coming.
Now that’s not about trying to scare you.  Hopefully you are a disciple of Christ, a Christian, and the wrath mentioned above is not directed at you.  But it does go to show that God’s wrath did not go away, or stop.  He may withhold his wrath for a season, for a time, but patience isn’t the same as forgetfulness.
On the other hand if you have not made Jesus Lord, my question is what are you waiting for?  God may be long suffering, that doesn’t mean He is asleep.
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English: Prestbury war memorial - northern fac...

English: Prestbury war memorial – northern face “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”. On 864428. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

” Our comfort is not God‘s priority.” Max Lucado from It’s not about Me

Does God love man? 

Of course, but how off track do I get. I get tied to this idea that His love means that His end game is to take care of me.  God’s goal is not to lift me up.  Instead his goal is to bring me to a place where I bring glory to Jesus, that is really what Christian living is all about.  Not bringing glory to me for his sake, but to Christ for my sake.
I, you, all of creation was made to declare the glory of God.  Yet God’s glory, his greatness is not for His good, but for mine.  Lets be clear God does not need praise, worship or adoration.  He was full and complete long before the creation of the first angel.  Before God created man, God had need of nothing.  He created man to reveal his glory for man’s benefit.  Had God not created man He would still be glorious, perfect, and complete.

If you had it all, would you  share freely?

Even if it cost you, a lot?  Me either which is why it is a good thing neither of us is God.  His desire was to create man so that we could share in His glory.  Not loneliness or need motivated this, but love.
Thank God he is not me.
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Do I focus too much on the knowing, the need to know.  Rather then believe, and let God be God, accepting that some of his workings are beyond my comprehension.  Or should I trust what I do not fully understand while seeking knowledge and wisdom.  Search for truth, and understanding, believing that God wants to be known, or else he would not have made himself known in even an infinitesimally small way.  Which comes first, believing God or knowing God?

Faith ain’t always easy

Any of you who know me, know that I do not see Christianity as being dependent on blind faith.  I see God as one who has shown himself over and over again to man, and yes to me personally, tho before you get the wrong idea, no I have never had a vision, a dream or even a burning bush.  Still I find myself focusing on trying to know the why and the what of God.  Why are things in my life the way they are?  What is God trying to show or teach me?  But what if it is not about me?
Max Lucado has a great book “It’s not about me“.  Sometimes this book is a bit hard to read, at least for me.  Not because it is too deep or theological but because of what it makes me face.  One of the things Mr. Lucado talks about is the story of Job, yes that Job.  He points out that after all that Job goes thru and endures, loss of family, wealth, health.  When God comes and speaks to Job, and restores everything and more to him, God never tells him the why.  God doesn’t ease Job’s mind about the why.  God doesn’t tell Job, “Look people will be studying your life, and using it for an example for 5,000 years”

No my trials and issues are NOTHING like Job’s

Would it have made a difference to Job?  I don’t know.  I do know that sometimes I don’t get to know the why.  Maybe that’s just as well.  I can’t speak for you but if God came and told me.  “I know this is tough but someone reading this 20 years from now half a world away is going to make it through a hard time because of this.”   My first thought would probably be really, you can’t find someone else to use as an example?
I’m not one for blind faith, and even tho this might seem like what I am talking about having, it is not.  I have faith because God has been faithful.  God has done things in my past that make it seem realistic that he knows what he is doing.  Even when I don’t.
What about you?  Do you find God wanting you to know him or trust him more?
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Christianity & Liberty

Alexis De Tocqueville in his classic Democracy in America, “The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and Liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make them conceive one without the other”

So what happened? Has this changed?  Or is it that as a nation, we have moved further and further away from God?  I’m inclined to think that this is the case.  As a nation we have taken down the ten commandments, removed prayer from the schools, and we wonder why liberty has deteriorated.  Christianity instills , brings about a huge overwhelming sense of love from man towards his creator, and therefore a love for his creation.

 So what?

If we love God, and by extension his creation then we will want liberty and freedom for others to become the best they are capable of.  Even if that liberty allows the other to not love or even curse God.  Why should we allow this?  Because God allows the same thing.  He gives each of us the liberty to be whom ever we choose.  What liberty does not do is exempt us from the consequences of our actions and desires.
Consider this, many people would say that I’m a good person I never killed anyone so I’m sure God will let me into heaven when the time comes.  But isn’t that God stepping all over your liberty.  Your free will?  Would anyone think for a minute that God is good if he forced his will upon man?  So if it is wrong for God to force himself upon you for 70 or 80 years how much more offensive would it be to do it for eternity?  How could a good God force himself upon someone, even if it was for their own “good”?
Now its time for your input.  Do you think God should force himself on his creation? 
Let me know what you think in the comments.