POSTED ON AUGUST 31, 2011:
God In A Box
Downsizing a really big God
How big is the God you serve?
Ask someone to come up with some adjectives to describe God. You'll get anything from really big, to immeasurable, to beyond human comprehension.
The Bible uses phrases like Creator of the world, Lord of heaven and earth, King of Kings, Prince of Peace, and Mighty God. They're all attributes used in scripture that highlight the transcendent nature of God. Transcendent, meaning "above or beyond the range of human comprehension."
You never see adjectives such as average, boring, mediocre or predictable used to describe the God we see in the Bible. In fact, most of us readily accept and appreciate serving a God that is so big, so far beyond our ability to comprehend.
We love knowing that the God we serve is so much bigger than our comprehension. His omniscience is a reassuring attribute that very few will debate. Nobody wants to serve a God that is relegated to our own limited human understanding.
The problem lies when we begin to wrestle with scripture or aspects of God's character that don't fit into our understanding. It doesn't fit into our neatly constructed box of what we believe God can, could or should do.
Read the bible and it's obvious that God doesn't fit into our preconceived box and yet we struggle with God doing something out of the ordinary, even something WEIRD. God should be normal, right? He should act within what I believe to be clear, rational and logical. Wrong.
Several weeks ago someone asked me about the passage in 1 Samuel 28 where King Saul asks a witch to summon the spirit of Samuel in order to know how to proceed against the coming Philistine attack.
If you read the passage not only does the witch connect with Samuel's spirit but Saul and Samuel have an ongoing conversation from the grave. After reading the passage, the individual looked over at me and said, "So, what's really happening in that passage?"
In other words, that can't be literal so put a spiritual spin on that passage that's a little easier for me to swallow.
Without flinching I looked at the person and said, "It seems like the King of Israel is using a witch to talk to a prophet of God that's now dead."
Insert awkward silence.
It's a strange, bizarre, unconventional passage of scripture -- bottom line.
I can't explain that passage of scripture. By best attempts would be mere speculation or a reach. Maybe God's got a really good sense of humor and looked over to one of his angels and said, "Watch this!" I just don't know.
Throughout scripture God works in seemingly irrational, incomprehensible ways to see his purposes accomplished. Keyword would be HIS.
Here's the question you've got to wrestle with: Does God working in a bizarre or unconventional way reconfirm your belief in his omniscience or does it become a stumbling block for belief?
The irony in all this is that the individual would not hesitate admitting the sovereignty and omniscience of God and yet one unexplainable passage that they can't reconcile or explain causes a crisis of faith or an insurmountable obstacle to belief.
If God truly is both sovereign and omniscient, a creative God that cannot be contained -- shouldn't the unexplainable just be part of it all? Shouldn't we expect the unexpected, the abnormal to be the normal, the unusual the usual?
I learned years ago that part of living by faith was not turning off my mind but the willingness to throw up my hands and say, "I don't understand and I'm okay with that." That's hard for a thinker and analyzer like myself.
God will never fit inside your ability to comprehend Him and for that you should be extremely thankful.
Do you remember the story of Job? It's a story that came out of a conversation between God and Satan, which is another peculiar picture all together. God commits to removing his hand from Job and giving him over to Satan to be tested, to see if he would remain true to God.
After being tested with from every angle, here sits Job -- a confused and understandably angry individual.
"Are you serious, God? I remain faithful and this is what I get?"
To Job it wasn't fair, it didn't make sense, and he wanted answers. Here enters one of the greatest and most freeing passages in the Bible as God answers Job.
"Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its' dimensions? Surely you know!" (Job 38:5) This statement is followed by 71 verses of God telling Job how he is intimately involved in the world, his life, and why things happen.
In other words, the message to Job is that he may not understand or even see God's hand at work but don't doubt for a second God's involvement.
So, what's the point of all this? Either you believe that God is good, loving, and just and that his plan is higher than yours, or you try to trap God inside the box of your own understanding.
I promise you this, when you understand and embrace the philosophy that 'God is God and you are not,' not only will it bring freedom to your life, but you will be able to more clearly see God's handiwork in your life.
Remember, it is God "who is able (and desires) to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." (Ephesians 3:20)
-(Matt Nelson is lead pastor at City Church)
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