Monday, July 23, 2012

A Full Portrait of God: Part I {Repost}

(Originally posted prior to my hitting the reset button here at Fire & Hammer.)

More often than not the Christian God is painted as very soft and cuddly, a grandfatherly figure inviting us to sit on his lap and stroke his beard. He is a source of great comfort, more reliable than a Maytag washing machine. For the most part this view of God is true; however it is not a complete picture of the nature of God. Once we look beyond the attributes we hold dear we find certain characteristics of God that are hard to reconcile with the Santa Clause type image we attribute to our creator. It is at what we see as God’s rough edges that our acceptance of the Lord is truly challenged.

Exodus 15:1-3

In his song of triumph Moses says God is a “man of war” (some translations say the Lord is a warrior). When I think of a man of war I see an armed person wearing battle fatigues not the loving gentle being so often the focus of our pulpits. The two are one and the same: the fatherly figure with arms open wide is the solder ready to fight for a cause. This is God, yet we rarely if ever teach about God’s more frightening side. We cannot fully say we believe in God unless we, like Moses, are willing to accept all aspects of his character.

Moses witnessed the ten plagues and the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. He and the nation of Israel were the beneficiaries of Pharaoh’s defeat in the Red Sea. At the same time he witnessed the mercy of God and the compassion by which the Lord lead the people of Israel out of bondage (Exodus 15:13). He acknowledged that God could at the same time demonstrate love and judgment, knowing the same God who gives light to those who believe was also a source of dread for those who reject the faith.

God is a warrior and he is a loving father. He is judge and he is merciful. This is a part of the full portrait of God. We cannot accept God in part but must reconcile what seems from a human standpoint to be sometimes opposing traits. Are you willing to receive God in his entirety or do you limit him to the traits with which you are comfortable?

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