Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in his love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
God is not two-dimensional. He’s a complex, furious, loving, tender, laughing slaughterer of His enemies. There is a perennial tendency to flatten God’s character, to engage in reductionism for the sake of simplicity. Have you ever heard someone – or yourself – say,
“I just can’t worship a God who would…” There’s the sinful, creaturely impulse to make God in our own image. So much mischief follows when we flip the direction of image-bearing. When God created man and woman, he created us in His image; in our sin and rebellion, in our limitations and confusions, we think we should return the favor.
Isn’t it funny how some insist that God receives us just as we are, but refuse to receive Him just as He is.
Who would want a Hallmark God anyway? In what world does sentimental doting Grandpappy God belong? A world made of Precious Moments and Thomas Kincade’s perfection of light? Who lives there? We don’t. We live in a dirty, sweaty, smelly, dusty world: this world that Jesus is redeeming, this world in which His Church is advancing His Kingdom, is a world of pain in childbirth and snuggly toddlers; fighting against thorns and the joy of freely sharing what God has given; temptations to sins that would crush us and the delight of a cold glass of water. Sin infecting us all, and the image of God in us all. Total depravity and common grace.
And in all that messiness, we have a God who can handle it all. Because He doesn’t break bruised reeds, He doesn’t snuff out smoldering wicks, He leads justice to victory. He smashes the teeth of the wicked. He allows the wicked to prosper for a time, and He takes up the cause of widows and orphans. He directs elections, He clothes the grasses of the field, He comforts the lonely, He triumphs over mockers and liars and those who oppress the poor, He causes the mountain goats to give birth, He allows the abominations of the Amorites and Americans to reach their full measure, He tenderly consoles the weak in faith and He castigates the strong in their pride.
As someone else has said well, we must take all of God for all of life. He’s a multidimensional God. We need Him to be.
Joe Bancks is a member of FCC.