by Eleanor Gustafson
We talked on Monday about fearing God and that it’s not just an Old Testament thing. The New Testament gives us the classic example of Ananias and Sapphira and their little white lie. Believers were selling property and giving the proceeds to the Apostles to distribute as needed. Ananias and Sapphira sold some property but fudged on how much they had received. They wanted to look good. Had they said they were keeping part for themselves, who would have objected? Just don’t lie. Peter asked, “Did you sell you land for x number of dollars?” “Oh, yes!” Dead.
Fear indeed, but we need to see God in his full dimensions, not just the parts that make us feel good. However, the essence of God is love. The doctrine of the Trinity makes sense only in this understanding of love. One person cannot love in a vacuum; love requires at least two persons. Long before the universe and all its inhabitants existed, the triune God was giving and receiving love. God IS love, and that’s our bottom line.
But the other important God dimension is his holiness. Less comfortable but necessary for us to be able to understand who he is. A holy God cannot tolerate sin—BAM! You’re dead. A loving God provided atonement for our sin and receives us back to his loving home. Jesus—God himself—made the way. He IS the way.
Even in the context of sin, God shows his love. We see this in Psalm 51, David’s confession of his affair with Bathsheba:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love… Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight… You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it… My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Keep in mind that even though David was guilty of both of adultery and murder, God called him a man after his own heart.
As we learned from Narnia, God is not a tame lion. He’s not safe, but he’s good.
The novel I’m currently writing lines out the concept of a spiritual True North, versus Magnetic North. Without going into the science of those terms, we can say that Magnetic North can lead us astray spiritually, whereas True North keeps our heart compass tight to God, no matter the circumstances. We are a grand mix of sin and devotion, but moment by moment, we look to the love of God to pull us out of the mire and into his presence.
One of my favorite quotes is by Mike Yaconelli in The Wittenburg Door, issue #131:
I would like to suggest that the Church become a place of terror again; a place where God continually has to tell us, ‘Fear not’; a place where our relationship with God is not a simple belief or a doctrine or theology, it is God’s burning presence in our lives. I am suggesting that the tame God of relevance be replaced by the God whose very presence shatters our egos into dust, burns our sin into ashes, and strips us naked to reveal the real person within. The Church needs to become a gloriously dangerous place where nothing is safe in God’s presence except us. Nothing—including our plans, our agendas, our priorities, our politics, our money, our security, our comfort, our possessions, our needs.
Fear God, yes, but know that you are much loved by this holy God.
Eleanor K. Gustafson (aka Ellie) began thinking up stories when she was five or six years old. When she started to read, God grabbed her with—yes—a story that had an invitation at the end, and she was hooked for life. But after reading her early attempts at writing, friends and even her mother told her straight out to stick to music as a career. She pushed manfully along, however, and began publishing both fiction and nonfiction in 1978.
The Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David is her fourth novel and builds off the biblical account of David, bringing the characters and dramatic elements to life and full color. A graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, she has been actively involved in church life as a minister’s wife, teacher, musician, writer, and encourager. Additional experiences—riding horses, gardening, house construction, tree farming, and parenting—help bring color and humor to her fiction. One of her major writing goals has been to make scriptural principles understandable and relevant for today’s readers through the undeniable power of story.
Website – http://www.eleanorgustafson.com