The problem of God: part two

The problem with God is that He is too nice.

I know that I just made a faith statement. This is what I believe: God is perfectly, profoundly nice to us. Just because that is a statement of my faith does not mean it is not true.

Even before we get to God the Son dying for the life of the world—the ultimate proof of God’s niceness—I like to note that, from the beginning, we see in God’s character that we can trust Him, that He aims to display kindness. When Adam and Eve hid from Him, because they had broken the law, God searched for them. He did not search for them to kill them, but to counsel, console, and clothe them. When He asked Adam what he had done, Adam did this: Adam sassed God right to His face.

And he lived to tell about it.

Adam said, “The woman you put here with made me do it.” In one breath, Adam convicted His Creator and His wife, let himself off scot-free, and the Lord let him do it.

From that, to Christ on the cross, and everything in between, is how I know I can trust God—trust Him to do the right thing, treat me with kindness, even when everything around me seems so wrong.

God has many attributes. Perhaps most familiar are the omni ones: omnipresent (He is everywhere), omniscient (He knows everything), and omnipotent (He is all-powerful). Those describe His ability, which help us understand how He could create all things from nothing and sustain the creation.

The ability to do something is one thing, what one does with it is another. The Holy Bible teaches us many things which speak to God’s character. Among them, He is merciful, just, and forgiving. We see those in how He reacted to Adam’s first sin.

A few years ago, I noticed that I found my favorite attribute of my Lord to be this: He is faithful. If He were not faithful in the use of His power, if I could not rely on Him to forgive me for Christ’s sake every time I repent, what good would He be to me?

We understand this need for faithfulness. Hopefully, we do not marry a person if we believe that person will not be faithful to us, or take jobs where we know the boss is unethical, or maintain friendships with backbiters.

Everything I believe and do as a Christian flows from my trust that the Lord will be faithful to me in every promise I find in His Word. Everything, fulfilled in Christ, moves me to love Him and my neighbor.

So, what’s the problem? The problem is in our corrupted nature. The very definition of sin is that we are self-centered, personified by Adam’s sass. Therefore, we love to take advantage of people whom we know to be nice. We love to take advantage of God’s kindness.

Example: a person has a chance to go to a playoff game of his favorite pro team, but to get to the game on time he has to get off work at noon. If he knows his boss to be a nice woman, he likely won’t hesitate to ask for the time off. If he knows her as a crank, one who keeps a scorecard and will remind him, again and again, of the favor she did, or, worse, belittle him even for asking, he will be less likely to make his request.

When one knows a boss for allowing things like fifteen minute breaks expanding to twenty, along with excess chatter among co-workers, people quickly recognize this and typically abuse these niceties.

God gave Adam the law to avoid one tree and Adam broke it. He gave Israel the Ten Commandments and they had a heyday breaking them, and we have continued in their train. God ordained secular government—like our own, which is not Christian, yet is God’s gift that we might live peaceful, productive lives—and all people, of all eras and cultures and nations and religions make it a practice of stretching or breaking the laws to their personal advantage.

The Lord made this world to reflect His nature (see Romans 1:20). He filled the world with laws, like gravity, because we need laws for order. Without gravity, where would we be? Gravity is faithful. The faithfulness of gravity reflects its Creator, and His niceness.

You know human nature. Whether it is a law of nature or government, if we don’t like a law we will find a way to break it. (To my chagrin, I have received four speeding tickets.) Recalling the thesis of my first post on this topic, from love the Lord created us with freedom. Freedom does not mean freedom from laws—as Americans, we know this. Laws are good; they serve to protect our freedom. Indeed, that the Lord gave us both moral laws and natural laws reflect His niceness and His desire to protect us from evil.

God gives us freedom to live and, when we abuse that freedom, He does not cease displaying kindness. He remains faithful.

Where am I heading with this? I have set the table for a final post on the problem of God, where I will discuss my personal conundrum and the notion folks often express, “God doesn’t make mistakes,” which is a correct statement often applied incorrectly, and how we need to take care not to abuse the two qualities of God which I have discussed: His love displayed in the gift of freedom and that He is faithfully nice to us.

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