I am not really sure if this will have a definitive point, but I wanted to get some of my thoughts on paper about a matter. I was reading a book this morning for part of my time that I force myself to slow down and focus in on God. In the book the author goes after the American theology, which I can agree has some obvious issues. The one I really seem to continually struggle with is the thought that either, “God is loving and has a plan for your life, and has your best interest at heart” verses, “You are an adversary of God, dead because of sin, and in your current rebellion, you aren’t capable of seeing that you need life, much less conjure up life for yourself. Because of this, you are thoroughly dependent on God to do something in your life that you could never do.”
I read this over and over, I hear that we need more of one or the other from the teachings; I hear that two sides bicker at meetings, and I have to ask …from my perspective…
…aren’t both a part of the whole?
The response I usually get is, “Yes, but we focus too much on one or the other.” When I hear this, and I probe a little further, I usually find that it isn’t the case of there being imbalance, but a matter of preference. Some people love to be slapped across the face with the truth, some need to have a bit more gracious approach.
A little rant here, but I love it when someone tells me that we need more hellfire and brimstone preaching. If I ask why, the answer is usually because “sinner’s need to hear the truth!” After I listen to them, if I ask them how many of these “sinner’s” they invite to church, it amazes me how quickly the topic changes.
I am all about the balance of the truth; we cannot say God is love without also covering the topic that He is just. I talked about that in the past (here). The responsibility, those of us who are teachers (by the way that is all of us who believe to some degree) is to bring forth the fullness of the gospel. Now, having said that, the fullness of God’s Word may not be what you grew up on. You may feel more comfortable on one side of the fence (love or brimstone), so when a teacher speaks on a matter that may not be at your personal view of balance maybe instead of criticizing, we should listen.
It isn’t a matter of incorrect doctrine, rather a matter of incomplete doctrine. Do we focus on one more than the other in America? In my opinion, it depends what church you are in. In many churches the pendulum swings more one way that the other. The completeness of God’s Word is that it is about love, it is also about judgment, and mercy, grace, justice, hope, healing, our rebellion, reconciliation, our adversity and war between the flesh and the Spirit, dependency on God, and so much more. The beauty in that is when we see that the vastness of our God is great enough to encompass all of this, and yet He is able to bring it to a simplicity we can grasp in some capacity.
If we say He is one or the other, we once again limit God to a human revelation. He is so much greater than that. Teach the completeness of His Word; learn the vastness of who He is through His revealing it to you by His Spirit.