Friday, May 20, 2011

Your God is Too Safe

Your God is Too Safe is a book by Mark Buchanan which we're currently reading in our Sunday morning study group at church as well as in our Friday night small group Bible study. Friday nights we're a few chapters ahead of Sunday mornings, and I'll tell you what, sometimes on the re-read I can't believe I ever heard this stuff before. On Friday I'm a listener, not a reader. Apparently I'm not a good listener, so I'm grateful for the Sunday morning study.

You may recall that in The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, the children ask if the God figure, Aslan the Lion, is safe. The answer is "No, he's not safe -- but he is good." 

In the introduction to Your God is Too Safe, Mark Buchanan explains: "God is safe. He is the one in whom we find refuge, our hiding place, a shield about us. He is the God of all comfort. He is the God of peace.

But that's not what I mean when I say we've made God too safe. I mean that we want Him to be comfortable rather than comforting...We want him to be peaceable, to keep His peace, to be docile, rather than to be peacemaking and peace giving. And instead of being our hiding place, we would prefer that God be our ace in the hole."

Here's a quote from Chapter 19, The Honeysuckle Bible, page 203. "...the God we meet in the Bible is often strange, enigmatic, fearsome, unsafe. All these messy stories and earthy details and clay-footed saints." In the next paragraph, Buchanan says that a friend of his was asked in a prayer group if he wanted to confess having read anything in the past month that in some way undermined his faith. "Yes," he said, "The Bible."

I hear ya, brother! I recently had a conversation with a long-time friend. She was ruminating on where she is in her Christian life and beliefs at this point, feeling that her faith was more firm, more certain in her younger days. I knew her then and know her now. We grew up in our faith on a very similar track. I concluded that, yes, we were more certain about what we believed and why, but sadly we were narrow and immature. Life experience makes our faith deeper and broader. We finally know enough to know we don't know much at all. God's ways and thoughts are higher than we can fathom. Just as his love for us is wider and longer and higher and deeper than we can understand. God is not made in our image. And He is not necessarily safe. But He is good -- all the time, in all ways -- He is good.

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