Saturday, March 7, 2015

Is God Aloof, Frightening and Impersonal?

Imagine a large, auditorium-sized classroom where the instructor is a mere speck on a platform way up front. He uses a projection screen so people could see him and his whiteboard. He also used a sound system that made his voice boom. Now imagine entering the personal study (room) of a respected professor/scholar who is known not only for his academic knowledge but also for his kindly patience and mentoring manner of teaching. Which would you prefer?

Those that really don't appreciate learning would probably choose the first option because they could hide themselves away and get lost in the crowd and not have to do anything. However those that appreciate knowledge and truly want to learn would likely go for the second option. The benefits of a comfortable study room and a dedicated, approachable instructor are way too valuable to pass up.

Although some might readily see a similarity between a large class auditorium and some of the larger church buildings that seat hundreds if not thousands, my focus is on the instructor. Why?

Many view God as being aloof and impersonal. They read passages in the Hebrew/Aramaic scriptures (many know these as the “Old Testament”) and read about God speaking from heaven in an ominous voice and conclude their impressions are correct. But think back to the auditorium instructor or even large congregations or churches -- can you blame them for piping a booming sound system? How else would they reach all those in attendance? Now, think of the situation where the nation of Israel was being lead out of Egypt to their eventual “promised land.” God was readily willing to communicate with this large crowd (passages seem to indicate that there were more than a million people in that group) so they all could hear him. It was the crowd that grew fearful and designated Moses as an intermediator. However, it was never God’s desire to be perceived as unapproachable. How do I know?

A pivotal scripture is something Jesus told his followers: “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.” Now, Jesus was not saying that he WAS/IS the Father. Rather that knowing Jesus was as good as having met God himself. Why? Jesus himself again answers that question: I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative, only what I see the Father doing (paraphrased). (John 5:19; 14:9) So what example of relationships did Jesus indicate that he learned from his Father? Even though Jesus endured arrogant defiance and rejection from the greater number within his nation, he mentioned how tender his feelings were toward the nation as whole, indicating that he wanted to gather them together protectively like a hen gathers its chicks.

King David was one who wrote several of the Psalms (songs) recorded in the Bible. Notice how warmly he felt about God: You are my God of salvation. In you I hope all day long. Additionally, the prophet Isaiah characterized God as wanting to ‘take us by the hand’ like a loving, caring father would with a small child. Even after God gave the nation some needed disciple, still he referred to himself as a “grand instructor” that wanted nothing more than to give life sustaining guidance so that we humans can enjoy a fulfilling, enriched life.

So that brings us back to the kindly professor. Our Grand Instructor, our God, is very much that way. He is willing to give us individual, personal attention. All we need to do is follow his instruction. How? Read the following link, starting at paragraph 9 under the heading “How Can We Walk With God?” (I am not saying that there were not times when God felt the circumstances deemed it necessary to be stern. Even a loving parent chooses to be stern when needed.)

No comments:

Post a Comment