Who is God, Really?
Who is God really? He is offensive, anarchic by the world’s standards, and far too gracious to people who don’t deserve his time or attention.
Is God the God of the sick? Is God an insect? Is God a spirit? Even Christians (and most of all Christians) fall victim to the temptation to remake God in our image, or at least an image that makes him more appealing to us. Jesus was a man who others proclaimed as God and Savior. But is he our kind of man, our kind of God, and our kind of Savior? This is our entry point into sin and unbelief. If sinners can corrupt their conception of God, they will do it. There is no watermark too low for the old Adam that he won’t descend to in order to escape from being in a relationship with the living God.
For the sake of self-preservation, sinners will degrade God’s word, works, and ways to elevate themselves to the level of divinity. God degenerated to a contradiction of life is the sinner’s life-long project. God isn’t the transfiguration and eternal life. He is the antithesis of change and a good life. Jesus isn’t God’s eternal “yes” to our deepest longings and wishes; he is a declaration of war against our lives.
We slander God’s word by reducing what we know about God to an argument about what is true and false, good and evil, right and wrong about “our” God. Is he far away or nearby? Does he care that I cheat on my taxes, or does donating a fifth of my salary to charities balance the books? What about the other gods? Can we glean anything from them to learn more about our God? How do we worship our God? How do we serve our God so that things go well for us? We ask these questions to discredit what God says about himself and what he reveals to us at the cross of Jesus.
For the old Adam, there are no more excuses for our failure to replace the sickly, senile old God of Israel with a god more representative of our theological genius. Now a curse is upon us for failing to take God at his resurrected word.
Our “god” doesn’t absolve sickness and old age because he abhors illness and decrepitude. Our “god” has no patience for physical and mental birth defects, college dropouts, career failures, thrice-divorced women, and deadbeat dads. Our “god” is unforgiving and morally degenerate. Our “god” rewards selfishness and punishes undeserved kindness and charity. Our “god” tells us to hope for the best with no guarantees about the future. Our “god” is hostile towards Jesus because our “god” is Satan (2 Cor. 4:4).
It’s been almost two thousand years and not a single new god. But still, we justify Satan’s existence, giving him different names, worshiping him as if he represents the ultimate and maximum of god-creating power as if he is the creator-spirit in us. He is a “god” of decay, decadence, cowardice, and soul-weariness. And tragically, sinners love him. But that’s the key!
To make love possible, God must become an actual person. He chooses to participate with us in the lives he’s created for us. He was born, breastfed, weaned, and educated by his father and mother. He endured scraped knees and nightmares, was tempted by the neighborhood girls, celebrated birthdays with friends, laughed, wept, screamed, and ultimately died and was buried. What this kind of love that joins itself wholly to the beloved as God does for us is horrifying to the old Adam. He is trying to become a divinity and does not want to be reminded that he’s only human. Worse, being human (and only human) is what God intended for him to be since the beginning!
God’s fleshy love shows us reality in ways that we have decided are most definitely not real. He renders the power of our illusions impotent. He untwists our concepts of good and evil, true and false, right and wrong in a way that we are certain to imperil our lives. Our “natural” relationships with God and each other are exposed as wholly unnatural when Jesus Christ shows up to interrupt our theologizing.
This rebel movement called Christianity represents reality: sinners translated into the kingdom of heaven through water and God’s word and the very real, enfleshed presence of God in the world called the Church.
All those baptized in the name of Christ Jesus are, therefore, now a part of a rebellious movement in an unholy world ruled by its satanic god. This rebel movement called Christianity represents reality: sinners translated into the kingdom of heaven through water and God’s word and the very real, enfleshed presence of God in the world called the Church. Christianity negates the “god” old Adam has elected for himself. Jesus directs his body, the Church, to rebel against what the world calls “good and evil” because it is a corruption of his word, works, and ways.
Jesus converts sinners into holy anarchists made up of people from the bottom, the outcasts and “sinners” who are cursed by this world’s god, as is obvious from their physical and mental birth defects. Jesus seems to prefer college dropouts, career failures, thrice divorced women, and deadbeat dads to the “healthy, wealthy, and wise” who we tend to venerate because they’re judged to be superior to ordinary people. He even died to pay the penalty for other peoples’ guilt, which isn’t just or fair by the world’s standards. It’s offensive!
So who is God really? He is offensive, anarchic by the world’s standards, and far too gracious to people who don’t deserve his time or attention. He is the fleshy God who revels in our fleshiness, redeeming us to enjoy and celebrate being made in his image, flesh and bone, mind and soul. He gives us a name by which to know and call him when we need him: Jesus of Nazareth, our Lord and Savior. That’s who God is and always has been since before the foundation of the world, and will be into eternity.