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God doesn’t Care if She is Misunderstood

The title of this article is likely to ruffle the feathers of most Christians. Reactions probably
range from mild discomfort to offense and accusations of blasphemy. Indeed, even I am
uncomfortable with it. The title is designed to bring home the point that we all have certain
concepts about God and his/her nature which may or may not be correct and which also
may be more important to us than they are to God.

The premise of this statement is that if God really cared for us to fully understand God’s
nature and purposes, God would have made them perfectly clear. I can already hear my
more fundamentalist readers thinking, “God has made it clear – its all right here in the
Bible.” If it was so clear, then why do we have thousands of denominations? I have seen
two committed, God-loving Christians read the same passage, yet understand it in
completely different senses – not just differences in nuances, but in opposite, diametrically
opposed ways. If everything was completely clear, there would be no significant theological
differences.

In the early church, sharp differences existed regarding the human and divine natures of
Jesus Christ. Christians divided over this issue. While Christendom came to a consensus,
there are still variants within Christianity. Certainly on a global scale the debate rages on.
Assuming that Jesus really is God incarnate, why has God left it so mysterious and
unconvincing to so many people? Why did he leave such paradoxes as Jesus praying to
the Father if they are one and the same? If it is so important that we understand the nature
of Jesus, why did God not spell it out in terms and ways that were non-debatable? Is the
truth so complicated that God couldn’t or that he chose not to? If he chose not to, is it
because it is not that important, because he wanted to keep us guessing (i.e., he is playing
games with us), because he doesn’t care or for what reason?

Jesus said he came to bring a sword and that people would divide because of him. Why?
Did he desire people to be divided? Did he want people to fight and kill over him? Did he
want to be party to religiously induced crusades and wars? Was this a statement of desire
of fact? If fact, then why has he allowed his name to be so defiled?

Christians have divided over baptism, over pre-destination vs. free will, over the Second
Coming, over hell and judgment, over every conceivable issue. Love and forgiveness,
intolerance and judgment have all been preached in the name of Christ. The Bible has
been used to both justify and oppose slavery, women’s rights and gay rights. Early
Protestants were just as intolerant of heretics as the Catholic Church was. Why does God
put up with all of this?

When you read the writings of great Godly saints throughout the ages you find that many of
them held theological beliefs and practices that most Christians today would find abhorrent.
Yet, they are revered because of the service or impact they made in the world in the name
of Christ. How can God use someone mightily who has major misconceptions? Doesn’t
God care if we think properly about God’s self?

It is no better today. One Christian will call Thomas Merton the most spiritual person of the
20th Century and another that he was deluded by the devil. Each will be fully convinced in
his own mind and each will claim to love and follow God. We cannot even agree upon what
a spiritual person is even though we call upon the same God. Isn’t it important to God that
we be of one mind, that we be unified?

Some issues are very significant and has the potential of impacting the faith of millions. For
example, in pre-revolution China, the pre-tribulation rapture was extensively taught. When
communists seized power, Christians were fiercely persecuted and multitudes lost their
faith because they could not imagine the Great Tribulation being any worse and they were
not raptured in advance. With all the rapture hype today and pervasive belief in the
imminent return of Christ within Evangelicalism, what will happen to the faith of many if he
does not return soon (within a generation of 1948)? Just as importantly, what does this do
to the credibility of the Gospel in the world?

Doesn’t God care about how God appears to the world? Doesn’t God want to be properly
understood? Isn’t it important to God to have a good reputation amongst mankind?
Instead God’s name is repeatedly scandalized by God’s “followers.”

Either God is distant and does not care about us or it is because he has a larger purpose
and these issues are less important in the larger scheme of things. The first is
inconceivable for a loving God. God must care about those people God loves. If what we
believe and teach about God is important for God’s larger purposes, then surely God would
have made all these things crystal clear. Therefore, I am left with the conclusion that it is
not all that important that we understand all of these things for God to accomplish God’s
will.

God is apparently content to be misunderstood. He is not like humankind who tends to


derive their value by what other people think. Even those who try not to consider what
others think will frequently fight back when liabled and slandered. Yet, God does not. God
is very patient and willing to put up with all of the abuse and miss-directives given in God’s
name. Why? Here is my best shot.

God says in Isaiah 55:8-9: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My
ways," declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways
higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” NASU. God must have a
plan which is beyond what we can imagine (I Cor. 2:9). Paul frequently writes of God’s
mystery which was not revealed until Christ. God has no problem keeping secrets from us,
even for thousands of years. His purposes do not depend upon our proper theological
understanding, but upon God’s sovereignty. Whether our doctrines are right or wrong will
not prevent God from accomplishing that which he desires to accomplish.

Does that mean whatever we believe is of no consequence? Of course not! Certainly it


has consequences for us individually since we tend to reap what we sow. Also, the greater
the error of ones beliefs from reality, the more problems he will have. For example, if one
believes he can do whatever he wishes anytime he wants to, he will soon run into trouble.
Hitler subscribed to a set of false beliefs and the results were disastrous for millions.
Therefore, what one believes is important.

It is important for our own wellbeing and for the wellbeing of others. It may even be
important for God’s objectives in determining the pace at which God is able to move
forward with God’s plans (the Kingdome of God). Indeed, there is ample evidence in the
Gospels that how much Jesus could accomplish with people was dependent upon their
faith. Yet, God is very patient and able to endure many delays since he has all eternity.
When one examines the Gospels, you find very little doctrinal dogma. There is no
systematic theology. Rather, what we learn about God is primarily what God desires of us:
Love, Justice, Forgiveness, Truthfulness, Perseverance and the like. We learn that these
are God’s characteristics and we are to pray for the Kingdom of God to be formed here on
earth. One of the prophets of old tells us that God desires that we act justly, love mercy
and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). God seems to be more concerned about what we
think of each other than of him.

We tend to view things from the microcosm of our life in a finite time and place. God has
the advantage of seeing the universal picture and hence he is not too concerned if we
cannot seem to grasp it. As it says in Romans 11:30-36:

For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy
because of their disobedience, so these also now have been disobedient, that
because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. For God
has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How
unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS
KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or
WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN?
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.
Amen. NASU.

Wayne McDaniel
November, 2006

Discussion Questions:

1 What is your reaction to the title of this article?


2 Do you think God is offended if referred to in the feminine sense? Why?
3 Why do you think God left the question of who Jesus is and what he came to do so
unclear and unconvincing to so many people?
4 If God is so concerned about her name, why does he permit it to be so defiled by
God’s “followers”?
5 Jesus prayed for unity amongst believers. Yet, the church continues to fragment
into multiple factions. If unity is so important, why has God allowed the church to
become so disunified?
6 How can God permit two sincere followers have sharp disagreements over major
theological issues? (such as the nature of the Trinity or requirements for salvation)
7 What do you believe God does want us to understand about God’s nature,
purposes or methods?
8 Do you agree with the statement: “His purposes do not depend upon our proper
theological understanding, but upon God’s sovereignty.”
9 Do you think that God is more concerned with what we think of each other than
him?
10 Why is it important or is it important to even consider what God considers
important?
11 Do you believe that what you believe is important? If so, then in what way?