“God is sheer mercy and grace;
not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.”
— Psalm 103:8-10
For nearly half my life, I pictured God as a grumpy old know-it-all with a hair-trigger temper. He seemed to be baiting me with promises of love and acceptance one minute, then after reviewing “my records,” rejecting me as unacceptable the next.
My old-school religious upbringing and haphazard grasp of scripture had concocted a soul-deadening potion of contradictory “theology.” For a long time, I just threw the whole religion “thing” away and assumed that God was simply unknowable.
That was then …
I went on to rack up a pretty abysmal moral record as an adult, with inner emptiness my constant companion. I figured if God wouldn’t have me, then I’ll find my friends in a saloon. Seemed like a pretty good plan at the time. But it didn’t take long for that road to end in tears.
Before, I viewed God and Jesus as separate, but somehow associated. Further, my mind reeled at the notion of God as an unimaginably powerful Spirit, but Jesus — Him, I could relate to. Something about His passion touched me deeply and melted my heart with every encounter.
Jesus Is God Folks
I later learned that not only is Jesus the Son of God, but that Jesus IS God. Competing religions will give you a Jesus who is “a great teacher,” “a noted prophet,” “a moral man,” etc. They might even say He was a “son of God,” one of many created by God.
But the real mark of true Christianity is that Jesus IS God, that Jesus is as much God as God is!
Now that’s a different story. C.S. Lewis put it this way:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell.
“You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”1
Scripture declares, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”2 God literally “wrapped himself in skin,” took his place as a fellow human, shrunk himself down into the form of a tiny baby and humbly made his entrance into a decidedly inhospitable world.
God With Shoe Leather on Him
In our broken world, what too often passes for “love” is nothing more than repackaged lust or unbridled sentimentality. Neither version lasts longer than the strewn flower pedals and champagne bubbles that usually accompany such emotional outbursts.
But God puts it out there, invests, lays it on the line, takes risks, sticks his neck out when He loves. And does so when we are the least deserving or useful:
“Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready … But God put His love on the line for us by offering His Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to Him.”3
How About You?
Does the God you have in your head strike you as a cosmic spoilsport making you feel like Wile E. Coyote caught in the headlights of his oncoming holiness? Listen to these words, from God’s heart to your ears:
“Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of His Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of His resurrection life! Now that we have received this amazing friendship with God, we … shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!”4
God wants you to “get” Him — to see through mankind’s misguided assumptions, distortions and outright falsehoods, and see into His heart. And don’t worry, He already “gets” you:
“As parents feel for their children,
God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.”5
— D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.
1. “A Quote by C.S. Lewis.” Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 July 2015.
2. Matthew 1:23-24, New American Standard Bible
3. Romans 5:6-8, The Message (MSG)
4. Romans 5:9-11(MSG)
5. Psalm 103:8-14 (MSG)