THE SECRET TO LIFE
Now that we have introduced ourselves to God, and know each other’s first name, it is important that we get to know one another intimately. God, although, is omniscient, and He knew each of us before we were even born. I guess that makes our job much easier. We don’t have to communicate who we are, or what our needs are in this relationship. All we need do is focus on God. (Sounds easy, doesn’t it?) Ha! We must use all of our energies to figure this out, who God is, and how may we best serve Him here on earth, during this transient life. Somehow, I wish there was more time.
Unfortunately, many of us who think they know God, have an unhealthy view of who He is. Some of us look at God and see only His love, mercy and kindness. While others focus on God and see Him as judge and jury of the world. They look at God only to see His vengefulness, fearing His retribution. Although both temperaments of God are valid, focusing on one or the other is not. God is not an either or. God is big enough to be both. If you hold any one of these two extremes as your understanding of who God is, it will be just a matter of time before Satan uses that conviction against you. Satan will send up such a smoke screen that you may no longer know the truth. Becoming only a prisoner of your own design.
Fortunately, I personally hold both views. Unfortunately, before I took the time to understand God, I never held both views together. It wasn’t until I read God’s word that I found the secret to life. That being balance! For me this understanding of God’s nature was unearthed during a dig through the Old Testament. In chapter 34 of Exodus, God and I met, and our relationship began anew. In that very special passage of scripture, Moses shares his knowledge of God’s natures with us. “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of their fathers to the third and fourth generations.”
We will now place each of these two natures under a microscope, that being God uniquely as love, and God exclusively as judge, and try to show the danger of holding either as your sole perception of Him. God’s greatness is so much more than either one of these two understandings. For if you look through one lens on a microscope your vision becomes very myopic, but if you’re able to view your subject through both lenses a new world comes to life; one that, perhaps, never occurred to you because you never took the time to notice.
God as John proclaimed in 1 John 4:8, is love. John also stated in his gospel that God so loved the world that he gave them his only son. Truly I say to you that one of God’s natures is love, but there are many other characteristics that make up God. God is also holy and true. He rewards the righteous and condemns the wicked. God, through His son Jesus will be your judge, yet He also can and will be your redeemer through that same son, Jesus. To look at Him only as the God of love is to take God out of context and box Him in. To look at God only as love leaves too many unanswered questions, that can, and will come back to cause you to fall.
Let’s look into God’s word and find some obstacles that will cause that fall if you look solely at Him through the lens of love. In Malachi, 1:2-3 it states, “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated.” Or in Ephesians 1:4 which states, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will --- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the ones he loves.” If God’s only nature is that of love how could God hate Esau? How could the God of love choose to save some of the world, but condemn others to spend eternity in the bowels of hell?
If you look to God solely as love reading such scriptural passages should cause you great discomfort. Soon Satan will begin to make you doubt the loving nature of God completely, bringing up such questions, if your God is the God of love, why is there so much pain and suffering in the world? How could the God of love allow rain to fall upon both the just and unjust? Shortly, you will ask if there is a God, or is God, as Nietzsche said, dead?
Seeing God solely as love cheapens Christ’s death upon the cross. For if Christ died only as a way of saying I love you, and not as the sacrificial lamb that bore the sin of the world upon himself, than are you truly saved. Has your sin truly been wiped away? For doesn’t scripture’s say in Hebrews 9:23, “...the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness?” Seeing God strictly as love allows believers to justify and become apathetic toward sin. For if God is exclusively the God of love can He hold your sin against you? How you answer this simple question could bring great reward or great disaster; choose carefully!
Conversely, concentrating on God strictly as judge is just as devastating. Reading such passages in scripture as Christ’s forgiveness of the thief upon the cross, and the parable of the workers in the vineyard should make one who believes God solely as judge to feel anger toward God. A good illustration of the point I wish to make is the Prodigal Son’s older brother. In Luke’s gospel we read, “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him.’”
Also looking at God solely as judge makes a believer very legalistic and condemning of other brothers and sisters. It causes believers to place more stock in their works than on the grace of God. You see it isn’t until you balance God’s love with the fear of the Lord, through His judgment, that you appreciate His fullness. One nature counters the other, so that one is able to develop a healthy view of who God is. One concludes by understanding both natures that as James stated, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead;” or as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, “If I give all I posses to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
Yes balance is the secret behind becoming a stronger believer in and for God. My parents tried to teach me this secret, balance, as a child by tutoring me to work as if everything depended upon me, but pray, my son, pray as if everything depended upon God. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood what they were truly trying to say. That the secret to life is balance. Nothing more, nothing less!