Some may ask why anyone would be taken with a God who is defined as Love. Doesn’t Love sound a little too “wimpy”? Maybe some of us would be much more comfortable with a God who kicked butt and took no prisoners. That kind of God can be the great ultimate equalizer, the one who insures the bad guys don’t win in the end. Love is great for the lovely and loveable, but it’s just a misplaced sentiment in dealing with the evil in this world. Justice is the real answer in that world. These completely human thoughts are bound to have crossed our collective minds as we consider God, his workings, and the life situations we encounter.
Innumerable songwriters and poets have written about the power of love. Now power is exactly the quality we would expect God to exhibit. That more closely approximates the kind of God we could respect. Of course, one might ask where is the power in Love. It certainly is not the power of military might or the martial arts. If love is at all powerful, it must be in a way that is completely removed from the notion that “might makes right”. The mighty can be powerful and can define their own right, but how can the loving be powerful and bring that power to bear making things right?
Most, in their concept of God, would probably picture one who could at any moment put an end to all human evil by destroying evil men in a great judgment. The only thing restraining God from ending evil in this way is what? The end of a specially defined waiting period, a period in which men are called to repentance? Does that make any sense? Individual men live maybe 70-80 years and then they die, ending their opportunity to repent. They, in turn, are replaced by other men who live another short time, relatively speaking. Under those circumstances, how can a protracted delay of 2000 years provide a reasonable explanation for why God is waiting yet to end human evil through the power of his judgment? What can possibly explain why God has not long ago unleased his power in judgment? Of course, many will likely respond that God’s mind and motives are not mine to understand. Perhaps so, but God blessed us all with a questioning intellect, so I’ll go on asking the question anyway. (I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.
- Galileo Galilei)
What if, however, God is letting the power of Love work in the hearts and minds of men to bring about a human transformation? What if instead of judgment and destruction, that would have been such an ordinary answer to evil, God is using a more counterintuitive power and process to make things right? Would that approach make God greater or smaller in our estimation? An all powerful God could certainly deal with evil the way men have habitually dealt with it, by redemptive violence. Kill the killer. Brand the thief.
But do we really want a God who handles his business like we do? Could a God like that command any more respect than a great military commander or diligent police officer? God’s true greatness and the ultimate source of our respect cannot be his ability to destroy but rather to re-create, to transform. The fact that God’s way is counterintuitive is further evidence of its reality because as the Bible says God’s ways are not our ways. Unfortunately, we have often been taught that God’s ways are exactly our ways only with a much greater dose of violence.