Limiting God

Typically, an individual human tends to distrust any reality that he or she cannot comprehend, and functions in a way or ways that he or she cannot function. Our rationale seems to be: (a) “If I (or someone I trust) cannot explain it in a comprehensible way, it cannot be real.” (b) “If it functions in a manner I will not, it cannot be real.”

Those criteria make acceptance of God’s person impossible since (a) He exceeds human comprehension, and (b) does many things humans would never do. For example, God’s patience referred to in last week’s article is definitely not human because humans simply do not do that. We get rid of the problem instead of enduring personal revulsion to reconcile the problem-makers.

Many of those who profess Christian faith, skillfully find a way around that dilemma by making God a superhuman. They say of anything passing human comprehension, “God would not do that.”

However, there are problem areas that do not disappear by forcing God to be human or by saying, “God would not do that.” Consider forgiveness. Human limits of forgiveness do not match God’s limits. Humans tend to give forgiveness to those they regard as “deserving” of their consideration.

For example, Christians tend to think of Paul as a pretty good guy. After all, he was a Christian, an apostle to the gentiles, a preacher, a missionary, and a New Testament writer. However, just before his conversion to Jesus Christ, his convictions were just plain mean. When the Christian Stephen was killed, Paul was there. He “amened” the act. He was actively involved. And who was Stephen? A Christian, a deacon in the Jerusalem congregation, one who cared about the needy, an evangelist! “Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison” (Acts 8:1-3).

On the day Paul was converted, he was on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians! Even as a Christian, he did not deny his past. “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor” (1 Timothy 1:12, 13). Can you believe God forgave and used a killer of Christians?

Paul declared that God forgave him to demonstrate that the patient God of mercy could forgive anyone (1 Timothy 1:16). John said God would forgive the Christian of “all” unrighteousness if he/she were honest enough to confess sins when he/she were aware of them (1 John 1:5-10). Baptism merely began an ongoing forgiveness from sin.

We can live with that kind of forgiveness! It is not human-like, but it surely is needed!

David Chadwell
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 9 August 2007

Previous Article


Next Article

   Link to other Writings of David Chadwell