Defining God

When you boil it all down, it’s simply a matter of willingness. Now that doesn’t make much sense, does it? While the sentence could be true, probably is true, there’s no context or agreement on what “it” we are talking about. So who gets to define “it”? You see that’s the message for today’s encouragement.

In the same way that I’ve offered a mystery which only I can explain; God has left us many mysteries that we must determine to leave in His hands. You could look at this another way. Who is allowed to define God and why He does things?

Consider this exclamation of Paul’s at the conclusion of Romans eleven, “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!” (Romans 11:33, NLT)  Paul had just explored the vast mystery of the Jewish/Gentile/God relationship. Specifically, how God used the Jewish refusal to accept Jesus as a means of opening the door of faith to everyone everywhere.

Even though Paul had a revelation from God into this mystery, it was incomplete. To undergird his exclamation, Paul quotes a portion from Isaiah and from Job in the verses following. The verse from Isaiah reads in full, “Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?” (Isaiah 40:13, NLT)  The answer, of course, is no one can. The verse from Job is a small portion of God’s response to Job’s challenge. God asks, “Who has given me anything that I need to pay back? Everything under heaven is mine.” (Job 41:11, NLT) The answer again is no one has. Only God can describe, define, and ultimately defend God.

But then we encounter human silliness. Taking a riff from the “what would Jesus do” movement, some challenge conflicting sentiments by asking — Would Jesus…? Or firmly declaring “Jesus would…” with no basis of fact. Or perhaps you’ve heard someone declare that a loving God wouldn’t or would allow….  Christians have also fallen into the same trap such as when some vehemently declared that AIDs was God’s specific punishment for homosexuality. And finally, the contention by others that God is nothing but a myth and a delusion. All of these examples try to explain or define or speak for God based on their own biases, agendas, or experiences and perspective.

Again, only God can really describe God and His ways. That’s the point of following Jesus; submitting our thoughts, wishes, imaginations, desires, hopes, dreams, realities, pains, successes, possessions, and loves to Him. Following Jesus is a lifelong pursuit of God, seeking every day to know Him just a little bit more. We are well aware we don’t have all the answers, but we know who does (and it’s not Google). The larger question is if we are willing to follow Jesus even if we can’t explain everything. Are we willing to let Him lead us, to teach us, and to change us? Are we willing to put everything on the table?  

When you boil it all down following Jesus is simply a matter of willingness.


Dale Heinold
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