God's nature is relevant to the present condition of our world. America's world shook in ways we regarded unshakable. Amazingly, the fundamental issue moving our world to the brink of chaotic instability is not at all the issue Americans expected. If the fundamental issue dealt with economic suffering, power inequities, materialistic unconcern, social injustices, or racial bias, most Americans quickly could relate to the issue. Why not? Those problems shake life inside America.

But the basic issue is about God. That issue is far more basic than His correct name, the proper way to approach Him, or the proper way to worship Him. The "now" issue centers in God's nature. Before September 11, God's nature was a "none issue" here.

In America before September 11, can you guess the only place that discussed God's nature? Sunday school classes? No. Wednesday night Bible classes? No. Sermons in church buildings? No. Bible studies with seekers? No. Anyone attempting meaningfully discussions of God's nature in those contexts was B-O-R-I-N-G. "Killing" interest in a Christian study, class, or audience was guaranteed if one meaningfully discussed God's nature. Then where? Theology classes in schools training preachers might guide in-depth studies of God's nature. In other contexts, God's nature is assumed. The prevailing conviction: "No one needs to understand God's nature! Do what He says and get on with life!" [That assumes we can do what He asks without understanding Him.]

America is now at war. Our government carefully tries to keep this war from becoming a religious war between two worldwide belief systems. Why? The war is based on radically different understandings of God's nature.

One system primarily believes God is a God of justice. God was deeply offended by unbelievable injustices. Because of injustices against God's nature, hate appropriately expresses faith. Faith expressed through hate results in acts of terror. Believers' vengeance against unbelievers appeases God's anger.

One system primarily believes God is a God of redemption. God's love was deeply wounded, but He uses mercy and grace to forgive. Through forgiveness, He teaches people to be forgiving. Repentance appropriately expresses faith. Faith expressed in repentance results in kindness.

Why should anyone want to be like God? If God is the source of hatred, and faith expresses itself in terror and vengeance, that is a good question. If God is the source of redemption, and faith expresses itself in kindness and repentance, the answer should be obvious.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 21 October 2001

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