September 5th, 2006 | Posted in » Baptist Issues, Church Stuff..., Devotions / Bible Studies, My Life / Family
The past two weeks in Sunday School, we’ve been studying Romans 9… yes, that Romans 9… the chapter on God’s sovereign choice, which speaks to the doctrine of election. If it gives you any idea how much meat is there and how much discussion it’s drawn, we’ll be on our third week of discussion this Sunday.
So… what’s the big deal? Let’s let the Bible speak for itself.
18Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
22What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath — prepared for destruction? 23What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory — 24even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?
You see, these passages are pretty tough to swallow. They don’t provide very pleasant thoughts to most of us (especially if we’re not completely sold on reformed theology)… this idea that God is in complete control of our salvation. It just doesn’t seem to mesh well with other parts of Scripture, and especially many of our long-treasured beliefs about God:
16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
The idea of election, and especially the idea of God creating certain individuals for destruction, is really quite disturbing to believers who have been taught over and over that God is love, and especially in light of what that teaching generally leads us to think about God.
Now, I’m not going with this where you think I am… I really could care less about the debate over the doctrine of election. This simply provides a good example for my main point:
God doesn’t fit in our box.
He’s too big for us to define. He’s far more complex than we’re generally comfortable with. He’s given us Scriptures which can be quite confusing at times. He’s full of qualities that can seem to be in opposition. He allows things in our lives we just don’t get. Even His plan of salvation seems downright crazy when you look at it objectively.
God just doesn’t fit in our box.
I wonder if that’s the root problem of so much of our the turmoil in Christianity today… not just amongst Baptists, but Christians of all denominations.
Have we forgotten who God is (or simply been afraid to look and find out)? Are we too comfortable placing walls around God to make Him easy for us to swallow? Do we shun certain Biblical concepts because we just don’t like the way they taste? Are we so full of pride that we think we can keep God in our box? Do we fear the discomfort that the idea of a God we don’t fully understand forces us to try to keep Him there?
Is our God box what enables us to fight and argue with such self-righteousness?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I think they’re worth asking.
You see… when I’m forced to face tough Scripture passages like Romans 9… I always find that my ability to define Him and understand Him can’t create a big enough box. In a way, that’s quite discomforting, but in another… it’s all the comfort in the world.
God is bigger than anything you and I can imagine. He’s smarter than us, more loving than us, more just than us, more righteous than us, has wiser plans than us, is more determined than us… you name it.
God is God.
In light of that simple yet profound truth, I can only be humbled, fall to my face in worship… and toss aside my worthless box.