The more I think about God, and read about Him, the more I find myself coming away with mixed feelings. These are not mixed feelings in the way in which I have mixed feelings about, say, Coke – I love the stuff, but I also know it corrodes my insides quicker than drinking pure petrol.
I mean genuine, paradoxical confusion about God. Let me explain.
God is, without a doubt, a Father to us. He loves us. He sent His Son to die for us, so that we might be reconciled to Him. God would do anything and everything for us, and His love for us is so unconditional that it is incomprehensible. I love that about Him. I love His love for us. John 3:16, whilst perhaps the most used Bible verse ever, also speaks this truth to us in a hugely powerful way.
But then there’s the other side to God. The side of God that created the earth out of nothing, who spoke and the stars came into life. The God who can give and take away in an instant (Job 1:21), the God whose power is so strong and mighty that nothing is beyond Him.
And if I’m honest, these characteristics of God scare me a little. And by a little, I mean a lot. I mean, God defeats death. That’s some pretty powerful stuff He’s got going on. And I wonder, sometimes, if we lose sight of this side of God in our attempts to make Him friendly, loving and accessible.
It’s the same way in which Jesus is always painted as an angelic figure, with flowing blond locks and little ruddy cheeks. That’s not how I see Jesus. I see Him more as a rugged, dark-skinned carpenter whose body showed the wear and tear of a hard life of manual labour. Just because He looks more rough and ragged than an angel doesn’t mean He can’t be our closest friend.
With God the Father, I feel like we lose too much of His power and strength. We limit them to what He can do within us – His power to refresh us, His strength to equip us. But we often lose sight of the sheer power and magnitude of who God is, and what He can do. He could destroy us in an instant, for example. Not cheery, but true.
I think it’s important to acknowledge and talk about all aspects of God’s character. The expression ‘God-fearers’ is a pretty old one that has been used to describe people who are reverently following and fearing God. I think we should all honestly fear God to some extent. We should be aware of His sheer might and power, and the fact that nothing is impossible for Him.
We have to hold this alongside His great love for us. We have to place it alongside God’s love and compassion for us, His willingness to sacrifice His Son for our sin so we could be with Him. And suddenly, whilst it’s still right to fear God, we can also take comfort in the fact that this mighty, powerful, strong and creator God is on our side, and that He loves us.