Tuesday, February 28, 2012

God is... (part 1)

Alright, pop quiz.  I say God is _____.  Fill in the blank.  Ready.  Go.

You said Love didn't you.  I bet most of you did.  I heard this question the other night in a class my family is taking.  The speaker said "if you were to poll people on the street with that phrase, what would be the response?"  Immediately, multiple people blurted out Love.  And, of course, the speaker said "correct, it would be Love."

Apparently I was different.  I immediately thought Holy.  I almost blurted it out in fact, but caught myself when the chorus of "Love" came raining down from all over.  It puzzled me at the time.  Why did I think that?  Love is obvious-  that is an obvious answer.  Think of all the John 3:16 signs we see at sporting events.  Everyone wants God to be their best buddy.  So it should have been obvious.  Yet, here I was with a different answer.  Why?

When we talk about the character of God, what strikes you the most?  The Loving nature of God, or the Holiness of God?  The first choice is obviously easier to deal with.  I mean, who doesn't want a God that loves them unconditionally?  No questions asked. No requirements.  Just love.  That is definitely the easier approach.

The Holiness of God?  Tougher.  Much tougher.  But why?

Because it is not all encompassing.  We are not holy.  It makes us stand in stark contrast from God.  It is not unconditional.  It asks questions.  It has requirements.  We cannot stand before Him, are not worthy of uttering His name, should not be so bold to call ourselves Children of God when we consider the Holiness of God.  Because instead of including us with God, it separates us from Him.

Consider what John said in Revelation 1:17, "When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead..."  Or what the prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 6, "Woe is me!  For I am lost...".   The Message version uses the phrase "I'm as good as dead!"  These men, whom I imagine you would consider men of God (I do, at least), were so struck at the contrast, they either did die or wanted to.  These were men that knew the Bible.  Probably had memorized much of it.  Lived in a world where faith in God was not only important, it was part of life.  And yet the contrast they were faced with in the presence of Holiness, made them want to die.  I guess the way I see it, they wanted to be separated.

So think about that.  They wanted to be separate.  From God.  Doesn't that seem a little backward to you?  Because it does to me.  After all, those stories are straight from the Word. From the Bible.

But that is what God's Holiness does.  It separates Him from us.  Not only that, but it makes us want to remain that way.  Because we are so fragile, His very essence can take our life, and because we are selfish with our lives, we would rather remain alive than draw close to Him that way.  My only guess is that when we see Him, everything we try to hide is unhidden.  And the shock from that reality is too much.

The High priests of Israel wore a rope tied around their waists when they entered the Temple of the Most High God.  The reason was because there was a chance they might not come out alive.  And so if that happened, they would have to be dragged out of the place, because no one else could enter to remove them.
So, for these men, entering near the Lord was literally hazardous to their health.

Yet for us it is so different, so simple.  But, how are we any different?  Why would we be better than these men who spent their entire lives living around the will of God?  What makes us think we can belittle our relationships with a Creator this awesome?  Why do we act so foolish in how we interact with Him?  We act entitled.  We feel like we have earned God the buddy.  Not God the Consuming Fire.

I'm going to leave this post unfinished.  For some reason, even though I want to tie this up with how God's Love is the balance, countering this separation between us and is the reason we can draw close to him.  Is the reason He died for us, is the reason He offers us salvation.

But I feel like I don't need to yet, more like I can't yet.  I'm not really sure why.  Look, if this convicts you, I'm sorry.  It's not me.  It's God.  I'm just a humble typist.