I was reading a really sweet book in a big box bookstore recently, considering whether or not it would be one worth bringing home for my family. It was a kids book, one written to tell children that God delights in them, which is certainly true. But it seemed to go a step further. It put the child in the center of all God’s hopes and dreams, as though the child is what God lives for.
Approachable or Safe?
This is not a “we should feel bad about the idea that God loves us” post, by the way. That’s not really my jam, anyway. God absolutely loves and delights in his people. But what stopped me from purchasing this book is that I want my kids to have a bigger picture of God than this book offered. I don’t want them to see themselves as being at the center of God’s dreams, because, frankly, that’s way too much pressure.
I want them to see God as approachable and as a God who delights in them and rejoices over them as Scripture says he does. But I want them to rejoice in knowing his happiness isn’t dependent upon them. That we don’t worship a God who can be manipulated or controlled in that way.
This is going to be one of those, “Jesus is not safe” posts, isn’t it? Well, sure, but only because it bears repeating. There is a difference between approachable and safe. An approachable Jesus is the one we find in Scripture. The one who invites us to come boldly before the throne of grace. A Jesus who humbles himself and takes the form of a servant, submitting himself to obedience, even to the point of death. If one might be so bold, he is approachable because he approached us.
The God we can’t control
There is a difference between approachable and safe. An approachable Jesus is the one we find in Scripture. The one who invites us to come boldly before the throne of grace. A Jesus who humbles himself and takes the form of a servant, submitting himself to obedience, even to the point of death. If one might be so bold, he is approachable because he first approached us.
But a safe Jesus, not so much. And that’s good news for us because a safe god, a safe Jesus, isn’t one worth our time. A safe god is one we can control, usually by trying to make it happy in some way. And a god we can control isn’t a true god at all, but an idol. Drew Dyck makes this point well in his book Yawning at Tigers:
You determine everything about [an idol]: what it’s made out of, where it goes, and how it’s worshipped. Not so with the sovereign Creator of heaven and earth, who alone dictates the terms of his worship. An idol is safe. It never challenges you. It isn’t threatening. It doesn’t judge sin or demand loyalty.Drew Dyck, Yawning at Tigers, Kindle Location 287
The kind of God the Bible describes is one we would never in our right minds make up on our own. He’s the kind of God that, frankly, doesn’t make sense for us to worship from a human perspective. This God is one who challenges us, who doesn’t need us in order to be happy. “The Holy One of Israel is a jealous God—passionate and loving, yes, but unspeakably dangerous too,” as Dyck writes. So rejoice, friends! We worship a God we can’t control, and that is really good news.
Photo: Freely Photos