One of the phrases I hear most often when talking to non-Christians is ‘I can’t believe in a God who [insert cause here].’ For example, these are all real-life reasons I’ve been given by people saying they don’t believe in the God of the Bible:
I can’t believe in a God who would tell me who I can and can’t sleep with.
I can’t believe in a God who dies.
I can’t believe in a God who allows suffering.
But if God is God then he’s fundamentally other than us, so surely would be expected to be something different to what we’d come up with ourselves?
It’s like the search for intelligent life in the universe. Every time there’s a news story reporting something exciting, it always starts with something along the lines of ‘scientists think they’ve discovered water on Mars’, because no life has been discovered on earth that hasn’t needed water to exist.
BUT YOU’RE NOT LOOKING FOR LIFE ON EARTH! Surely if there’s life that isn’t on earth, we’d expect it to be different from the life that we’ve seen here? Never mind. Back to what I was saying.
So something that’s struck me recently is the way that we tend to like things in nice, easy-to-manage boxes, whereas the Bible is far happier to present a Person who is not either tolerant or judgmental (as our society would present it), but he is both loving and gracious towards sinners and holy and intolerant of sin.
This sometimes looks like a contradiction. For example we’re told:
…by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:9)
…to us who are being saved (1 Corinthians 1:18)
…all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:9)
Our minds go: Well, which is it? Is salvation a past, present (ongoing), or future event?
And God says: It’s the best of all three.