Somewhat futile conclusions

woman_alone.jpgA couple of weeks ago during a discussion on a Sunday morning, one of the youth boys concluded that God must have a ‘bit of evil’ in him. We were quick to correct him as best we could and had to messily explain why it couldn’t be so, in response to why God seemingly almost enjoyed ‘killing people off’ in the Old Testament.

I was thinking further about it when I was reading about The Painful Joy of Justice in ‘The Pleasures of God’ (John Piper) and came across the following,

“From this I conclude that the death and mystery of the unrepentant is in and of itself no delight to God. God is not a sadist. He is not malicious or bloodthirsty. Instead, when a wicked, unbelieving person is judged, what God delights in is the exaltation of truth and righteousness, and the vindication of his own honor and glory” – (p.73)

Piper has a fair point (and one hard to elaborate on in one post – go read the book). How do you explain this to a 12 year old who hasn’t had the experience of looking at theology and clearly wouldn’t know what a sadist is (speaking only from experience – it’s the kind of thing I have to continually look up)?

We do, as Christians seem to do a lot of trying to understand God. Yet if God could be understood, he would not be as great (?), he would not be as wonderful and incompressible.
I have a question,

We should be striving to know God as best we can, but should we attempt to understand him? Is it the same thing?

Is it enough to simply apprehend who he is in what he is doing and the multitude of other ways that God reveals himself?

We should not and cannot claim to be completely in control of having this life and God in a box.

It’s a wondrous thing to glimpse a little bit more of Him and a frustrating (and false) point to think for a moment that I’ve understood as much as my understanding can allow.

Explaining, showing God and sharing who he is to others is no mean feat. It is difficult, exciting, complicated, terrifying. Who are we afterall, to explain him? And to make others satisfied with a realm of paradox and doubt… what are we getting them in to!


  1. said:

    I think that it’s very healthy to seek to understand more of who God is, but you do need to be aware that to completely understand who God is can never happen. I think that the process of trying to understand becomes a part of knowing God, but it also needs not to be all of it.

    December 5, 2006
  2. said:

    Its easy to confuse God with his corporate image. God’s PR people (us christians) running around advertising how wonderful and fluffy he is…

    and then God comes out chucking mobile phones like russle crowe… throwing punches like rex hunt, and jumping on couches like tom cruise.

    I’ve been struggling with this one since early this year… trying to get a bit more accustomed to God not being a fluffy good luck charm.

    CS Lewis description of Aslan, stashed away in my head somewhere, has been a key idea. He uses the word terrible.

    God is terrible. Good… but terrible.

    When I kayak, I go down rapids that could kill me. When I climb, I go up cliffs that won’t hang on to me if I let go. These things are wonderful… and certainly not evil… but each, in its way, is terrible.

    There’s something about the immediacy of danger in those situations that is kinda Godish.

    If you approach God in the wrong way, there’s a fair chance you’ll get flipped out, pinned under, and drown. If you let go of God, there’s a fair chance you’ll fall to your death.

    Or like Aslan. Anyone might be tempted to poke a lion with a stick, through the bars at the zoo… but no one, standing right next to a lion in the wild, would poke it with a stick, unless they knew the lion personally, and trusted that it wasn’t feeling hungry or particularly biteish, and that it didn’t have a particular aversion to being poked in that place.

    I guess its nice in a way to have to struggle to remember and put faith in the goodness of God. It’s a whole lot better than just assuming God will be all fluffy and forgiving every time. Of course God sticks by his word, and will forgive… but its a lot easier not to sin when you think about standing next to a lion, getting pounded by a rapid, or falling off a cliff, than it is thinking about God as an irritating tamagotchi on your key ring who wants to be prayed too, read about, worked for, and so on, or you don’t get to power up to the next level of christian supremecy.

    Sorry that was a little off track.

    December 6, 2006

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