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The Wish For a God We Can Fathom

While speaking at IWU earlier this week, one of the things I made a point of was telling them that A)  God is in control, B) Hard things happen, and C) A & B do not contradict one another.  I’m pretty sure that most people disagree with me.  And I’m just as sure Jesus is on my side.

I was referencing Matthew 11:6, where Jesus, after reminding John’s disciples about all the good things that were going on, tacked on a very ominous warning.  It was strange, actually, and they probably wondered about it for a while.

“Go and tell John what you hear and see.  The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up and the poor have good news preached to them.  And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

How could they be offended? After all, the Kingdom was being displayed in power all around them.  Why the downer by Jesus?

Jesus knew what they did not – that not many days hence, John’s head would be presented on a platter.  There were a lot of great things happening, but John was about to be killed…and Jesus knew the disciples were going to struggle reconciling those two things: widespread revival and an unexplainable death.

I’ve watched Pat Robertson’s recent trails in the media with a real interest.  I’m not getting into whether or not he was right or wrong by referring to Haitian history in light of the earthquake (although interestingly, I met Haitians who thought he was right).    My real point is that most Christians were offended that he even raised the question.   Again, I’m not ready to say that it was God, the devil, or a geological inevitability.    I’m just observing how many people felt compelled to write God a hall pass so that no one thought it was His responsibility.  They needed to re-frame the debate because they couldn’t fathom or accept a God who might do such a thing.

Let us remember that there is, in heaven, an unfathomable God. In the Old Testament, Job said “God is great, and we do not know Him….”.

When all is going well, when our church is growing, when our services are exciting, when our building payment is being made and there is much joy in the camp, it might be a good time to gauge our heart with the question of how we would respond if something difficult happened.  Could it possibly be God?  And if it is, would we be so offended with Him that we would walk away in disgust?

At the culmination of all time, there will be a song sung by the world wide church.  It is not sung by a fringe group or a nutty patriarch.  It is sung in a loud voice, by a huge multitude.  The singers agree with deafening enthusiasm.  The lyrics go like this….”Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for His judgments are true and just….”.

It would appear that few of us are willing to sing the song quite yet, because any time someone suggests that it might be appropriate, we drum them out of the choir.

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7 Responses

  1. Amen. God is who He is, and if we don’t accept Him as such, we aren’t really worshipping Him, but some weakk figure of our imagination.

  2. Hi Randy…I am not ready to decide if it was God’s hand or not, or maybe God removing His hand of protection..but I am reminded of Korah and the ground that opened up and swallowed him. God hasn’t told me how this tragedy came to be, so I won’t presume to speak for Him. Your post resonates within me, and adds to my questionings… and, will I be ready to sing the song of the redeemed? Only God knows. Thanks again for stirring me up.

  3. Hey Randy,

    Thanks for the post!

    More and more as time goes on and we draw near to the book of Revelation unfolding people in general and the church in specific are going to need to understand that God is completely good and at the very same time God is completely just.

  4. Job 2:10 What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?

    I am learning much about finding God in the dark places. I am also learning that I cannot fathom God, I can meditate on His attributes and His names, but I will never comprehend His complete being or His thoughts in this place. I hope when I get to a better place it will be all clear, but even then, He is worthy of all of the Glory, Honor, and Praise.

  5. Randy – I’m impressed – I didn’t think most INTJ’s were religious! 🙂

    I’m a Latter-day Saint, and I can state what I believe about earthquakes, etc., with the language we use at Church, and then I will make it easy to understand, I hope. I am a convert to the Church. I loosely Protestant before my conversion, so sometimes I am able to speak both languages better than others in my Church.

    Our basic belief is that when Adam and Eve first came to earth, the earth, which would include the Garden of Eden I guess, was in a “terrestrial glory. After Adam and Eve sinned and when they were kicked out of the Garden/paradise (whatever you wish to call it), the entire earth was given a “telestial” glory. (I believe the earth will have a “Celestial” glory during the 1,000 yrs when Jesus reigns. Don’t quote me on that).

    Bottom line, b/c Adam and Eve sinned, the earth is not in a state of paradise. Therefore, bad, even **terrible** things happen sometimes. If we were still in a form of paradise on earth, these earthquakes wouldn’t happen.

    This is not, overall, a bad thing though, mainly because if Adam and Eve had not sinned and we were still in Paradise (although the Book of Mormon teaches that Adam and Eve would not have had children if they remained in the Garden. See http://scriptures.lds.org/en/2_ne/2 – one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon), there would not be a need for redemption from sin, and Jesus Christ would not have needed to atone for all of mankind’s sins. Then where would we be????? For me, that chapter in the Book of Mormon I linked to explains what would happen. I would be shocked if any of you read it and instantly thought it was inspired Scripture just as the Holy Bible is, but if you don’t have an answer for “Then where would we be?” you can always just check out the link and if you think it’s hogwash try to come up with another explanation.

    Thanks for a great post, Randy, and for linking to it on Twitter, now that I’m reading the tweets from people I follow after about 6 months off from Twitter!!

    Enjoy Church today,
    Dan

  6. Dan,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I think your point about “Where would we be?” if Adam and Eve had not sinned is a mute one at best, and erroneous at worst. Obviously, the question is about as helpful as asking “What if gravity didn’t work tomorrow…”. It’s a mental exercise with no useful takeaway. Additionally, it reminds me a bit of Romans 6, where Paul asks if people would really justify sin because it gives us an opportunity to experience abounding grace.

    rb

  7. I’m coming to realize more and more that I don’t want a God that I can completely understand. Because if I could understand Him and His reasonings, then humanity becomes equal with God. I need Him to be bigger, to know that I can rely on Him to be in control when nothing else makes sense.
    As written on a wall in one of the concentration camps:
    I believe in the sun
    even when its not shining
    I believe in love
    even when I can’t feel it
    I believe in God
    even when He is silent

    God may or may not be silent in this, but I believe He is there, and He has a plan. I’ll trust Him

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