February 1, 2010

God is God. Period.

“Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar” Romans 3.4

Paul wrote these words in response to a hypothetical question: ‘How can God be a good and faithful God when He leaves some people in their unbelief?’ In other words, shouldn’t a good God rescue everyone? Why does He let some people remain in unbelief and death?

Paul didn’t directly answer the question … partially because no human being (not even a divinely inspired one like Paul) can fathom all the depths of God’s purposes and reasons for doing what He does. I don’t know why God chose to save me while others around me perish in their sins … except that I know it has nothing to do with me! And Paul would have said the same thing. That is a large and central reason why he did not answer the question directly.

But there may have been another reason he responded the way he did: “Let God be found true and every man be found a liar”. Remember the question Paul was replying to: ‘How can God be good and faithful when He leaves some people in their unbelief?’ It would appear that Paul detected a certain unhealthy tone when certain people asked that kind of question. For there is a way to ask an honest question; but there is also a way to ask the very same question in an accusing, arrogant tone. Depending on your wording tone of voice, the intent of one and the same question can be very different:

‘Paul, I know God is good. How then, in light of God’s goodness, do we understand the fact that millions of people die and go to hell?’

or, on the other hand

‘Paul, you talk about the goodness of God. If God is so good, why does he let people die and go to hell? That doesn’t sound good to me.’

Do you see the difference between the two ways of asking the same basic question? If so, then Paul’s response in Romans 3.4 makes perfect sense. Possibly the folks posing the question posed in Romans 3.3 were doing so in an accusing tone: ‘Some of God’s own people (the Jews) failed to believe and died in their sins. If God is so faithful, how could He allow that?’ And when we come at God with questions like that, presuming that we ourselves have taken a higher moral ground than God Himself (‘How can a supposedly good God do _____________?’) … then Paul’s response, throughout his letters, is uniform: “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.”

In other words, Paul says, God is God. And therefore, by definition, everything He does is right, good, and true. And if what God does seems not to be right, good, and true … what that means is not that God is not true, but that we are not true; that our estimation of right and wrong is misshapen; that our understanding is upside down or sideways. ‘He’s God, period. And we’re not’. That is what Paul is saying.

Does that sound harsh and inhumane? That God, no matter what He does, is true … simply because He’s God? It’s actually one of the most freeing truths in the universe! God is God. I am not. And therefore, I don’t have to waste my time critiquing and scrutinizing (a la Romans 3.3) everything that happens in the light of what I think God should be like. I just have to know what God actually is like (namely, true) … and then view life’s quandaries underneath that reading lamp. I don’t have to solve all the why’s that tie unbelievers in knots. I just have to trust that God is God and that, therefore, whatever happens happens at His behest, and is according to His good pleasure, and is protected by the umbrella of Romans 8.28, and is (by definition) good, right, and true.

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