Who do we want God to be?
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“God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said,
‘I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble,
a rock that makes them fall. But anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.'”
Romans 9:33 New Living Translation
Stumbling over a protruding rock is embarrassing. I should know. I’ve done it many times. When we’re walking by ourselves it’s no big deal to trip other than a momentary feeling of anger at the rock for being so pretentious as to cause us to stumble, but it’s another story when people see us stumble. We might respond one of three ways: either we’ll ridicule the stone as if it had no right to be in our way, we’ll try to make it look like we never stumbled. or we’ll laugh hysterically at our stupidity for not seeing the stone.
It’s embarrassing to stumble.
It’s also embarrassing to stumble over the character of God. The Bible refers to God as a “jealous God” (Exodus 20:5), “a man of war” (Exodus 15:3), and an angry God (Psalm 80:4). These characteristics don’t fit who we think God is and we stumble.
We want a God who get’s rid of all the evil in the world, a God who lets “all dogs go to heaven.” In fact, as I’ve written before, we want a God who creates heaven on earth. But what does that heaven look like?
We want a God who let’s us act like children all of our lives, a God who let’s us decide the direction of our lives, and who let’s us do whatever we want to do without consequences.
We want a God who will pat us on the head, give us good Santa “ho, ho, ho,” and say “everything is okay. You’re just being who you are.”
However, to have this kind of God eliminates the God who will never let us be “disgraced.” This God who is jealous is also a God who yearns for his flock (Ezekiel 34:12). This God who is “man of war” is also a God of “peace” (Psalm 85:8). This God who is angry is also a God of patience (2 Peter 3:9). We see the character of God in Jesus who in his jealousy went to the cross yearning to pour out forgiveness, who waged war against Satan that we might know peace, and who was angry at sin and patiently endured suffer.
We may not understand or even like certain characteristics of God, but he is who he is (Exodus 3:14). And in the great “I Am” of God he desires that you and I not be disgrace but trust him even when his character doesn’t make sense.
Copyright Douglas P Brauner