Minimising the significance of harsh truths has its dangers
To say that God is a consuming fire is most unpalatable. It pricks our ears. To many that image of God is more like the God of the Old Testament:
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29).
But the book of Hebrews is in the New Testament; so it must be relevant to believers.
The apostle Peter reaffirms the truth that believers will be judged: “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).
The trouble with many believers is that we prefer a God who is soft, loving and benevolent. Instinctively, we gravitate towards ministers who make God look like an indulgent celestial Santa Claus.
The respected theologian A. W. Tozer says: "Much of our difficulty as seeking Christians stems from our unwillingness to take God as He is and adjust our lives accordingly. We insist on trying to modify Him and bring Him nearer to our own image.”
Our attempts at giving God a makeover is tantamount to idolatry – entertaining thoughts of what God is NOT in our minds.
Love and mercy are important attributes of God. But He is also a God of justice and righteousness. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you” (Psalm 89:14).
He is the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah as well. He who once rode on a colt as a man is now ensconced on His heavenly throne as the King of Kings.
Presumptuous faith and failure to discern and do His will may have disastrous consequences for many:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Thinking erroneously that He is always meek and mild may prove disastrous when we’re confronted by God the judge at the end of our life journey or when Christ returns.
But it’s not only a harsh image of God which is difficult to swallow. Terms like self-denial, repentance and cost of discipleship are increasingly being watered down – to the extent they have little relevance for many believers. In an attempt to be more “seeker sensitive”, some leaders prefer to emphasise areas that are “safe” and agreeable such as blessings, comfort and success.
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
IS GOD A SANTA CLAUS?
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