|Rambling Thoughts About The Nature of God|
|Ramblings - What is God Like
I heard a message not long ago and something a few days ago caused me to think back to that message and all I thought of in the days following it. One of the stories the evangelist used from the Old Testament was the story about Absalom wanting to meet with Joab. Joab was Davidís general and Absalom wants to meet with him. Joab continues to ignore messages from Absalom to meet with him. In Second Samuel chapter fourteen, Absalom has someone set fire to the barley fields of Joab to get his attention so he will meet with him. Absalom had already had his own brother killed and would later take the kingdom from his father David and sleep with Davidís concubines just to show he was the man in charge (a truly evil man). The preacher went on to say, if God needs to he will burn our "barley fields" to get our attention. He will send trouble, sickness, calamity or even take a loved if he has in order to get our attention. According to this line of thinking God would do whatever it might take to get our attention. He might need to get our attention so we would make a decision to be saved. Or to make a decision really serve him if we were already saved and not serving him and living for him.
I thought, "Is that the way God works?" Can we take the actions of an evil man and say that is how God acts? Does God burn our "barley fields" to get our attention? To re-phrase the message more bluntly, "If God caused us to lose our job, burned down our house, killed a family member and then gave us cancer to get our attention so we could be saved, it would be worth it get to go to heaven. Donít wait for God to burn your barley fields. Serve him now." I admit it sounds much worse put so plain and bluntly, but that is the heart of his message. He even had some stories where people said it would have been better for them if they would have changed before God had to "burn their barley fields." As I sat there and heard that message I thought, wow, what if there is somebody here tonight that lost a child to leukemia or something else. What if they decide it was God "burning their barley fields" because they were not really serving God as they should have been. What a ton of guild the preacher could have just dumped on them.
I must admit I had some real problems with the message and that caused me to spend time pondering the nature of God. This educated man is a well known and well respect evangelist and I would not be so bold to say he is wrong. What I will say is that this is not how I see God at all. How do I see God? Well, although God does not change, the way he deals with man has changed. History and the Bible shows us this. He dealt with man with much grace under the Abrahamic Covenant. It was actually a covenant of grace. He dealt differently under the law which was given 430 years later. The Apostle Paul told us the letter of the law kills but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:6) Then after the sacrifice on the cross Jesus made he has dealt differently with mankind. So, how do I see God? I see God as Jesus. I have four Gospels written for me to tell me about Jesus. What do they tell me? Jesus said, "He who sees me sees the one who sent me." (John 12:45) And then once when Jesus and the disciples were together, Phillip said, "Show us the father and that will be enough." Jesus replied to Phillip, "Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father." (John 14:9) He is certainly not talking about his physical characteristics. He is referring to his actions. His nature. The way he lived his life and the way he treated everyone he came in contact with. In Colossians Paul tells us that Jesus in the visible image of the invisible God. Then speaking of Jesus relationship to the Father, Hebrews 1:3 says he is the radiance of his glory and the exact representation of his nature. This is a strong statement of faith about Jesus, which is very plain to me. If I want to know Godís nature I just look at Jesus. In the tenth chapter of Acts Peter, who spent years traveling around with Jesus says, "You know of Jesus of Nazareth......how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil." (Acts 10:38) I could go and on about what the scriptures say about Jesus. There are two scriptures that really stick out about him. All the fullness of God dwelled in him. (Colossians 1:19) And, for not even the Father judges anyone but he has given all judgment to the Son. (John 5:22)
So I pondered all this and rambled on in my mind for days. I thought of many things as I solidified what I believe the Scripture tells me of Godís nature and how that nature will obviously determine how he deals with people. It will determine how he deals with people in the world, in the United States, in Alabama, in my community and how he will deal with me. My relationship with God is based on love. God is love and if I am to serve him and live for him it must be motivated by my love for him. I love him because he has first loved me. I will not brag about how much I love Jesus. I will brag about how much Jesus loves me. What I do that is not motivated by love is most likely motivated by law, that is, by rules, requirements, obligations or fear. If God brings some terrible calamities on me to get my attention, will I really ever serve him motivated by love? Or will my relationship be one of legalism and fear? And now the really big question, the elephant in the room question, so to speak. Is that relationship really salvation? Will someone love Jesus and serve him and live for him to keep from being damned? To keep their "barley fields" from being burned? I think that opens us another can of worms, one I wonít ramble about now, but "exactly what is salvation" is that question?
And now the bottom line. How do I see Jesus dealing with people in the four gospels? How do I see God dealing with people in the four gospels? For Jesus said he did only what he saw the Father do. Do I see him "burning barley fields"? He certainly could have. He could have given all the Pharisees leprosy to get their attention. He could have caused all the priests homes to burn up. But I donít see him doing any of those things or anything remotely like that. Some of the disciples once wanted to call down fire from heaven on some folks. (That would get everybodyís attention.) Jesus told them they didnít know what spirit they were of. It apparently wasnít the Spirit of God. Certainly not Holy Spirit.
With all humility I must say that I personally do not believe the New Testament tells me that Jesus will bring trouble or calamity to peopleís lives to get their attention. Deep inside there something in me that believes bad things happen because of the nature of the fallen world or the work of the evil one. There is an evil one whose nature is to steal, kill and destroy. I want to give the evil one credit for his work. Even more I want to give glory to Jesus for his work. He is one who goes around doing good and setting free all those who are oppressed by the devil.
So, this is what I think. What do you think? Was Jesus God and did he act like the Father acts?
Serving the King,
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