“Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. One of you will say to me: ‘Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?’ But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? ‘Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?”‘ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?” [Romans 9:18-21]
I will, by no means, attempt to reduce the mystery of the above Scripture into something so easily consumed as a chocolate chip cookie. The suggestion Paul makes in this letter to Rome is heavy, but must be accepted as truth to those that have allegience to the innerancy of the Holy Bible.
I read a status on Facebook a few months ago from someone who blamed their lack of belief in God on the allegation that He did not serve their desires. This is, of course, not exactly how it was articulated, but it was the impression delivered.
The suggestion is not rare, and goes something like this:
I wanted _____.
God denied me _____.
I deny God.
What is implied in the above thought process is that God is beholden to our wants and desires. Honestly, though, how would such a being be God at all?
It is unfortunate that we have such an impotent view of a being that, if properly understood, would be acknowledged as mightier than all, so far removed from anything we understand to be superior that a comparison would be laughable.
The image of God I suffer most from is that gained from watching Saturday morning cartoons. My default Satan is homely with a carefully crafted, pointy crop of facial hair and a skin-tight, bright-red bodysuit. The image of God burned into my memory is that of a soft, passive, overweight, elderly man sitting on a cloud.
This is a far cry from, for example, the account in Exodus when God met Moses on Mount Sanai:
“Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.”
That is not a God to be messed with.
And if we can accept that that is the God that created everything, what right do we, as His creation, have to call the shots?
In a radio interview, Christian thinker Ravi Zacharias once highlighted a brilliant contrast in popular thinking. He suggested that, when seemingly senseless tragedy strikes, we are quick to ask why God would allow people to perish. Many will, however, claim that someone has a moral right over their own pregnancy to have it terminated, citing an ethic of ‘personal choice’ and soveriegnty over “their own creation”.
Why do we not grant God the same authority?
My guess is that we do not really regard Him as God, at least not in the sense that we should. The term, Lord, has been so heavily used, it has lost its meaning.
Lord is not a name, per se, but a definition of position. Webster’s describes it as “one having power and authority over others”.
One who we call Lord, but don’t acknowledge as such, is no Lord at all. He or she is likely a servant.
Truth is, God, if truly the creator of all, is not obligated to treat anyone mercifully or generously if it is not His will to do so.
But, fortunately, the same God that shook Sinai so violently is by virtue of His character entirely merciful and graceful. So much so that, Jonah, when explaining to the Lord why he would not lovingly warn the Ninevites of God’s impending judgment, explained,
“You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.”
In the book of Isaiah, God explains that
“for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Much of what He does and why He does it is not immediately understood, but no less divine. In fact, operating from a position of understanding that we are the corrupted sinners that we are, it should come as no surprise that we are profoundly incapable of processing His methods.
But we can trust. And we can bow our understanding to His, hoping not to deny Him for His lack of obedience to the service we demand of Him, but instead serving Him as a good and powerful Lord deserves.
2011, Chris Quimby