Defining God

Hosea 11:8-9 How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I surrender you, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? I have had a change of heart; My compassion is stirred! I will not vent the full fury of My anger; I will not turn back to destroy Ephraim. For I am God and not man, the Holy One among you; I will not come in rage.

Sometimes you run across a statement so profound it will change your life.  Or maybe it will change the way you see the world.  These statements can be quotes from famous people, or maybe they are just ordinary people saying famous things.  Nonetheless, we will repeat them, share them with our friends, and even using them as an opening line in a social setting.  That way we will sound really smart.  Regardless, it is often in the simple profundity (is that a word?) that we find meaning.

I found a statement like that today, but it wasn’t by a celebrity – it was by God.  He said in Hosea 11:9, “I am God and not man.”  Pause.  Think.  Reflect.

Why did that have to be said.  Of course He is God and not man.  It’s because humanity tries to force Him into our box of human limitations.  We think He needs to make rational sense.  We believe that He is a vending machine where if we put in the right amount of money and push the right button, we’ll get the right candy bar.  We’ve reduced Him to formulas, traditions, religions, and even our experiences.  If our father was abusive, He must be too.  If only our mom went to church, Jesus is for sissies.  If something tragic happened to a good person, God is cruel.  It’s a frame of reference we see Him in, but it’s an erroneous one.

It’s a mistake to view God through our lens when we can’t even see ourselves through His.  We don’t get to define God, friends.  He defines us.  He is God and not man.  He doesn’t think like we do nor does He act like it.  God defines God, plain and simple.  So when we “expect” Him to conform to our thinking, we’ve got a problem.  He’s asked us to conform to His.  When we want Him to wipe out the bad guys, He’s unexpected moved and shows compassion.  And for some reason, this makes us angry – until we remember that without Him, we’re a bad guy too.

This is what I love most about God, that He is, well… other.  I love that I don’t always understand Him.  I love that there is mystery in who He is.  I love that He is way more powerful than I will ever comprehend.  And I love that when I am feeling down, the author of life breathes into me.  I LOVE that He is not a man!  He is God and I refuse to define Him with my own life experience.  I refuse to define Him with my hurts or my anger.  I refuse to define Him with my political views or my take on human suffering.  I refuse to tell Him who He is based on my limited ability to comprehend the meaning of life.  Rather I surrender to His “otherness” and allow Him to shape all that I am.  For me, He must be God and I must be man.  Our relationship won’t work any other way.

2 thoughts on “Defining God

  1. Powerful! It is so often I try and explain things to myself and really, it is GOD being GOD! I am NO WHERE NEAR understanding or explaining or comparing who HE is and WHY He is….Thank you Pastor Brad! WOW…POWERFUL!!!!

  2. Before I came to the church, I didn’t know much, and I always tried to understand God. And really, I was also trying to understand myself. Camp this year gave me the opertunity to find my identity in God, helping me understand why he put me here on Earth. Thanks Pastor Brad!!!

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