Creating a Benign God in Our Own Image

Stan Moody

J.B. Phillips once wrote a popular book, “Your God is too small.” Are we demanding

explanations from God for what He appears not to be doing for us in our demands and timing?

Have we become so narrow and ignorant of the ways of God that we find His Word too

complicated or reduce it to some kind of rulebook for true patriots? Are we too busy doing for

God what He is patiently waiting to do through us?

These questions should hit us where we live! It’s as simple as this: “The moment we confine

God to our human calendar and to our demands for petty entitlements is the very moment that we

have created God in our own image!” We become Kingdom spectators rather than Kingdom


We talk often about Christian attributes that are missing in our day. First on our list are faith,

hope and love, love being the greatest of the three (1Cor 13:1) and seemingly missing in the

public square. What should concern us more, however, is how to put love into action. Ephesians

5:1 offers a glimpse of how we are to do that: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved

children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant

offering and sacrifice to God.” The way to find God, then, is to give ourselves up in love!

Love is not a Godly attribute until it is put into action, referred to as “mercy.” The most relevant

definition I can find for mercy is this: “…kindness in excess of what may be expected or

demanded by fairness, forbearance and compassion.” Mercy is the end product of love that

exceeds all our definitions of reasonable fairness, restraint or compassion.

In his letter to the Christians in Rome (Rom 11:33-36), Paul is ecstatic talking about the mercies

of our unpredictable God. He presents to us a God of power, mercy and grace beyond our

capacity to understand. He bursts out in a doxology – praise to God that begins with the

exclamation, “Oh!”

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” While we scratch our

heads and worry about what is going to happen in America and Israel and all those other places

we worry about; while we struggle with how to handle the personal sorrow and grief that comes

our way; while we live with incurable diseases and cry out for wisdom, God has a way of

bringing mercy out of chaos through unconditional love.

We think it is our right to know the fine details of the future. We depend to our folly on other

people a little higher than ourselves to put things right and inevitably become disappointed.

Politicians and pastors have morphed into mini-Messiahs rather than servants – Messiahs for a

month or two until we begin to see their flaws.

“Oh, how unsearchable are God’s judgments!” While we struggle in our weak sympathies and

scant knowledge of God, expecting and hoping that He will let His judgments slide, He has set

His mind on justice for the very people who continue worshipping the creature rather than the

Creator – His enemies. That’s where love takes on a whole new meaning!

“Oh, how unfathomable are God’s ways!” God is not just tweaking things here and there upon

demand. The paths of God include multiple actions and decisions that He makes to turn natural

disasters and human rebellion to His eternal purposes. He is not the author of evil. Rather, God

is mysteriously capable of turning our evil and our chaos into His predetermined paths of mercy

and grace. While we focus on the small picture within our limited sight, God sees the whole

picture and never loses sight.

“Who has known the mind of the Lord? Who has been His counselor?” Job handled it this way:

“…I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted…I have

heard of you by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees you; therefore, I retract, and I repent

in dust and ashes” (Job 42:1-6). That’s about as humble as it gets, isn’t it?

“Who has ever given to God to put Him in our debt? For from him, and through him and to him

are all things.” Try that one at the local county political committee!

We seek freedom by loosening the restraints of law for ourselves but tightening them for others

unlike ourselves. Yet, true freedom is found in opening our hearts and minds to the

unpredictable, inestimable role of the eternal God in the midst of the chaos caused by our own

sin and rebellion.

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