Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Living God

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31, NKJV).
Putting aside the western world's most common conceptions of God, which are conveniently diluted by cultural myths ("the Man upstairs") and westernized pantheistic misinterpretations ("the goodness in all of us"), and taking what the Bible reveals about Him at face value, you are left, if you think about it all, with two choices: fear and trembling, or complete defiance. 

Anything else is sheer indulgence in your own self-serving fantasies and denials.

One of the few advantages non-technological societies have over more modern people is the former's sense of NOT having conquered nature. People who live daily understanding (and fearing) the power of the natural world have a definite leg up on understanding (and fearing) the power of God. The other group have come so far from that very sensible stance that they believe nature needs their help to survive. 

Occasionally, the God of nature sends a reminder that even nature's formidable forces are so far beyond our control that to think otherwise is certifiable. One tsunami, one giant earthquake, one continent-sized hurricane, and we are slammed back into the paleolithic.

The existence of a personal, and all-powerful God who blackens mountains at His word (Mount Sinai), eliminates whole nations (the Canaanites), and judges the world with a global flood is typically an unacceptable proposition to people enamored of popular wisdom. 

And that is tragic because one day, perhaps soon, this Person who is Sovereign over all will exercise His prerogative over Creation, and we are foretold the deniers will run into caves and beg for the mountains and rocks to fall down on them.

The book of Hebrews stresses Christ's power and superiority, AND His Personhood. We are made in His image. We do not worship an idea or a force but a living God.  

And that Person is exacting and unrelenting in His standards and in His ability to enforce them. He is NOT the infant in the manger or in His mother's arms. He is God-Who-Became-Man, who stepped into time and space to demonstrate His grace and mercy in preparation for His future ripping open of the fabric of reality to execute judgment and reassert absolute control.

He is a living God. He is not a nice, neat manageable conception that we can tuck away in some satisfying and cozy intellectual corner.  And by His very essence, He is a fearful thing, whom you either embrace through faith and are forever after sheltered in His loving and outstretched arms.

Or, on that Day, you will fall into His hands.

Either way there is no escaping Him through defiance or denial or cleverness or self-righteousness or self-sufficiency. You are His, one way or another, whether you like it or not.

The only way not to be destroyed in His consuming fire is to make Him yours as well.

He has set the grounds for this relationship, and it is not performance (thank God!), but belief. 

His standards of holiness are so high, and we are so far fallen from them, that He had to die as a Man to enable the imputation of His righteousness to us through faith. There was no other way for Him to be both just, and the justifier, of those who believe. There was no other way for us to be saved.

Thus, He is the living God who died - for us. And in His dying, we live too, IF, by faith we accept His sacrifice on our behalf, allowing His transforming Spirit to indwell us.

For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. (Romans 14:9, NKJV).