Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Does It Matter What God You Serve?

"God is love." This is one of the most popular Biblical statements (1 John 4:7-12), among believers and even among unbelievers. But what does it say about who God is? Now the old pagan gods were merely men and women writ large. They were considered neither perfectly loving nor perfectly upright. Their loves and judgments were seen as very like ours, only less restrained. Now another option is a kind of impersonal God. This type of God does not love or judge, but is simply there. Then we come to the lone, personal God. And this God generally goes one of two ways. He is either very indulgent or very harsh. Either He is an extreme stickler or he lets you get away with anything. This is not surprising, because a Biblical, committed love requires someone to love. But for the lone, personal God, there is no one intrinsically there to love. Therefore, He must be dependent on His creation, or love must not be a fundamental part of His character.

But there is another option. Scripture speaks of a God who is love, but also of a God who is three in one. This is the concept of the Trinity, that there is one God (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6-8; 1 Timothy 2:5), who exists at the same time (Matthew 3:16,17; 27:46; John 12:27-30) as three persons: Father (John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 4:6), Son (Hebrews 1:8; John 1:1-18; Philippians 2:5-11), and Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17; Acts 5:3,4; 1 Corinthians 3:16). This is not just some abstract theological concept, but is integral to how we view God.  If God is three in one, it explains how God can be love, because it makes love a permanent part of God's nature (John 3:35; 10:17; 17:23-26). This love is pictured as a definite, committed love and not mere indulgence (Romans 5:6-8; Matthew 5:45; Jeremiah 31:3). But this is a principled love that does not conflict with holiness and justice (1 Peter 1:15-17; Romans 1:18; Isaiah 6:3). Nor are these contraries, for genuine, committed love must be concerned with the welfare of those it loves and must respond to those who try to do damage to those who are loved. It cannot just sit back and ignore evil and injustice. Therefore, it is a God who is three in one who is genuinely love and who, because of this, is properly just. Now that God is three in one at the same time is beyond human understanding, but we would expect God to be beyond human understanding (Romans 11:33,34; Isaiah 55:8,9; 1 Corinthians 3:18). But what we believe about God is important to how we live. And while it is possible to graft a foreign ethic onto our idea of God, the two will not really work together. Which it is why it is important to not just put our understanding of God on the shelf somewhere and ignore it. Rather, we should understand and apply it to how we live our lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment