Do you try and minimize God so you can feel comfortable? Do you emphasize certain characteristics of God and downplay others because they are hard to explain or comprehend?
There is a common practice of picking and choosing characteristics of God and putting together a sort of Mr. Potato Head version of God; one that we feel safe around.
Typically this involves an emphasis of love, forgiveness, and grace, while downplaying justice, wrath, and holiness. Too often we approach scripture simply wanting to confirm what we already believe about God, not hungry to learn more about who He is.
This is also a common thread we run into when we talk about the Old Testament. Admittedly, it does have some “hard to swallow” information to digest in it, but we can get closer to God by studying the information and reasoning, and applying it to our daily lives.
This error is born in our resistance to change. We tend to focus on God’s love and forgiveness, so we can justify our lifestyles of unrepentant sin. If we only talk about God’s love and forgiveness there is no responsibility on our part to pursue holiness.
As we affirm who God has revealed Himself to be in the Scriptures we get a more accurate picture of who we are. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah is overwhelmed by the holiness of God, as he says, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” In an honest assessment of the reality of who God is, Isaiah is met with the harsh reality of the condition of man. Though this isn’t the most comforting place to be, it is a necessary step to lead us to that comforting place.
Too many of us are not honest about our sin. We continually rationalize and justify our sin so we don’t have to admit that we have a problem. But only our admission of failure, leads us to the hope of a Savior. In the affirmation of our sin and the understanding of its consequences, namely separation from God, we see that we need someone to help.
When we see God for all that He is, and understand our sin for the tragedy that it is, we are left with a gap, where the cross fits perfectly. You realize that God is infinitely better than you could ever imagine, and your sin is more costly than you could ever afford. It is in this split that you are left with no option but to rely fully on Jesus. If you aren’t amazed by God and astonished by your sin, the gap between the two seems pretty insignificant. In fact, you feel confident that you could probably make up for you sin and earn your way to heaven, because it’s not that big of a deal. But in proper estimation of the realities of both, we are helpless. Apart from Jesus, our sin earns us nothing but Hell, and none of our attempts at morality will come close to the debt we owe.
In helpless surrender we find a sinless Savior who has paid our full debt. When we had no way to get back to God, God came to us. He made Him who knew no sin, to become sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God. It is here we find hope, peace, and reconciliation with God the Father, only through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
When we are amazed by the glory of who God is and what He has done and are astonished by the magnitude of our sin, we can finally appreciate the cross.
With out proper views of both, we will miss how much God loves us, because we will not understand the weight of the sacrifice He made by sending His Son to die for us.
- Jeff Cherry