March 21, 2021
By David VanEpps
I’m a nice guy–just ask me! But one thing I’m not qualified to be is God. Putting aside theological arguments about the qualities of God, let’s just look at a few simple reasons why it’s actually a wonderful thing that God is nothing like us.
Obvious, right? If I were asked to sentence one of my children to a horrific death, the answer would be an emphatic, “NO!” Not now, not ever. I would never sentence my children to any death, much less a brutal, public execution on a cross. Especially if it were to save people who constantly hurt me, offended me, and didn’t obey me. If God had any human-like thoughts in this space, Jesus wouldn’t have come to earth for our salvation, and we’d all be destined to eternity in hell. Thankfully, God is different; God is God.
We’re all taught to forgive. However, it’s easier said than done. When someone hurts us, it takes effort to forgive. How about when someone hurts us repeatedly? In Matthew 18:22 (NIV), Jesus answers the question about how many times we should forgive: “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” In biblical times, that didn’t mean literally 77 times, it meant infinity. If I were God, there would have been a limit; there would not have been full and final forgiveness for every single past, present, and future sin. Thankfully, God is different; God is God.
Mercy & Grace
Mercy is not getting what you deserve, and grace is getting something you don’t deserve. If I were God, I’d have no trouble extending mercy and grace to some. I’d have a hard time always extending both gifts to everyone. I’m sure there would be times when I’d want to give someone what they deserve. A few strategically placed lightning bolts could be fun, right? Not for God. Because of our sinful nature, we deserve death and eternity in hell. Thanks to His mercy, death and hell aren’t inevitable. Because of our sinful nature, we don’t deserve His love, mercy, favor, blessings, or any of His gifts for that matter. Thanks to His grace, we receive all of these gifts that we don’t deserve. If I were God, neither mercy nor grace would be handed out so freely. Thankfully, God is different; God is God.
If I were God, I’d want you to meet me on my terms. I’d want you to clean up your life, stop sinning so much, beat those addictions, stop messing up, get your life together, and then we’ll talk. Fortunately, God does the opposite. God meets us where we are. He comes into our mess. He accepts us in spite of our evil hearts, and in spite of what we’ve done in the past. He is the God of second chances. He’s also the God of third, fourth, fifth, and infinite chances. If I were God, none of that would happen until you cleaned up your act, and there wouldn’t be infinite chances. Thankfully, God is different; God is God.
I consider myself a loving person. I think most people would categorize themselves similarly. We love our spouses, we love our families, and we love our friends. As Christians, we’re taught to love everyone. That’s easier said than done. How do you love people who are difficult? How do you love people who are inherently evil? I try to love everyone, but if I’m honest, I’m not always successful. Aside from family and close friends, my love is not always unconditional. But God puts it all out there. He loves everyone, unconditionally, and with a crazy, reckless love that I can’t even comprehend. It’s mind-blowing to think that God loves us in spite of who we are and in spite of how much we’ve sinned against Him. It’s crazy to think He let His only son, Jesus, die on a cross for us. It’s crazy to think that even though we keep running away from Him, He keeps pursuing us. If people didn’t want to follow me after a few tries, I’d stop pursuing them. If people didn’t love me back, I’d stop loving them. Thankfully, God is different; God is God.
Isn’t it amazing? God is so faithful. God is so good. God loves us so much that He sacrificed His Son for us. He forgives us fully and finally for all past, present, and future sins. He continually extends mercy and grace to everyone and meets us in our messy lives rather than waiting for us to clean it up. No human could ever do that, especially me. Thankfully, God is different; God is God.
Photo Credit: Tom Barrett