Talking about God.posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 15 comments
A(vaguely heretical but nice): we should talk about God's love. People needs to know that God loves them because they have low self esteem/need to love him back/other platitude
B (not heretical but a tad self-righteous): er...no. People need to know that God is holy and angry at their sin so they know they need to be saved.
B: smiles beatifically while not intending to tell anyone who isn't a Christian anything about God at all.
Well, last week we tried this new thing at church. We had an excellent talk on Isaiah 6 at church in the morning. If you aren't aware, Isaiah 6 is the passage where Isaiah has an amazing vision of God's holiness and suddenly realises what a sinner he is.
In the evening, we then just sat round with coffee and discussed the talk, applied it, worked out what it means for us. I was in an excellent and lovely group of peeps who helped me to some great insights.
The thing I noticed is this. The response God wants from us in the Gospel is repentance and faith; that is to say - to realise that he is God and I need his help, and then take his help. As soon as Isaiah sees what God is like that is exactly his response - at least that is my paraphrase of "Woe is me for I am a man of unlcean lips". And so God's cleanses him with the stone from the altar.
No one explains to him what repentance and faith is. No one goes through two ways to live or knowing God personally with him. He just sees who God is and his response is "I am sinful, I need help".
Which means A is wrong. But so is B probably. The whole conversation stems, I think out of a wrong presumption - that my job is to tell people the route map to becoming a Christian - the steps. And then we disagree about what order the steps come in.
Rather it seems to me, we'd be better just talking about God. And cleverly, the way God has set it all up to work is that when we see who he is and what he is like (and I mean really see that - in such a way that he himself must have opened our eyes to it) our "knee jerk" reaction is to say "oh help" - which is exactly the response that the Gospel requires.
So much of my own sin and lack of repentance doesn't come through lack of effort, weak will and no self discipline - although those are certainly factors in my life. Those things, and my sin all come from on a lack of reflection on who God is. For if I reflected on that and God's Spirit opened my eyes to it as I reflect on it, then my reaction would be - well it would be to repent and believe.
It isn't cruel or nasty or cold to talk about the holiness of God. Because if people really get it they will knee jerkily think "help me". Exactly what God is looking for. Genius.