God is not Mr Spock in heaven like a scientist revealing the repeatable truths of an unseen God. We think if we observe a behavior then we can discern the person. If you remove relationship and see only a sterile environment of black and white then you can’t see what is in their heart. Relationship is intimate and spontaneous. Evaluating a response to a stimulus does not reveal the character or nature of a person in a relationship. You have to look through the lens of relationship.
For example my dog responds one way with strangers and another way with me. His nature and character are discovered in His love for me. For my dog Max, any stranger could be a problem for me. An unemotional scientific observation, devoid of the power of love, will reveal a dog that has a bad nature of barking. Funny thing though, he never barks at me. He loves me and barks at people he thinks don’t love me.
When we categorize and conclude based on a non-participation observation, we will get it wrong every time. We must become a participant to begin to see the story instead of the evidence. When we are a participant we don’t see the whole picture but we have a uniquely biased perspective with an opinion and observation (still very important to the story). When we see as Jesus, we begin to see the greater story. This is where we find the truth regarding the nature of the stories participants.
God is Jesus. His character is unchanged eternally. Fallen humans, however are learning their part in the story. Inspired means God “in spirited” the documentation. He reminded them of the details of the story but he didn’t change their perspective. God loves us so much that He lets the documented story portray Him differently than He actually is, for our benefit. He isn’t Spock. He is Jesus.
If you haven’t guessed I am talking about the Bible and the stories in the Bible. Even the “rules” of Leviticus and Numbers are just another segment in a story. Even the commentaries of the prophets are a shade of color added to the story. Jesus is the teller and interpreter of the story. We must look and see what He has to show us. Sometimes it will conflict us in our scientific search for repeatable precision. Sometimes we will uncover two sides of the same story that seem to contradict. Still Jesus will reveal truth. We have the mind of Christ so we get to challenge even what the Prophets have said:
1 Cor 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? (Isaiah 40:13)” But we have the mind of Christ. (ESV)
Enough philosophy, how about an illustration?
I bet everyone has seen the movie “It is a wonderful life” with Jimmy Stewart. In the movie he is George Bailey. We all fall in love with George. He is just like us. He has good days and bad days. At one point he has a really bad day and then God steps in to give George some perspective.
There is a scene in the movie where George is checking in on his daughter Zuzu. She came home from school and “caught a cold” and is running a fever. Mom has put her in bed to rest. She “caught the cold” because she refused to close her coat and she got cold. She got a rose that day in school and was so proud of it she didn’t want to damage it by closing her coat around it. I hope you have seen the movie because I just did a horrible job setting the scene. When dad comes up to see her, she wants to show him her rose. When she does a few petals fall off the flower. She says “fix it daddy.” So George turns away from Zuzu where she can’t see and he hides the fallen petal in his pants pocket. He returns the flower to Zuzu and declares it is fixed.
We see the whole scene. What does Zuzu see? She sees her dad take the flower and “glue the petals back on.” Did her dad actually glue on the petals? She is convinced that her dad has fixed the rose. Did her dad fix the rose? Now imagine Zuzu wants to record what happened this very important day a few weeks later. She has a little trouble remembering exactly how it happened since she had a fever. Now what does her dad tell her? Does George say “I faked fixing your flower so you would feel better?” I don’t think so. I bet he reminds her of the story just as she would have understood it. She writes it down and it is recorded forever more as Zuzu’s story.
Now Zuzu is all grown up. She is mature and wise and smart. She has had a revelation of how stuff works, especially flowers (she is probably a florist). She finds her diary from when she was eight years old. What does she read about that day? Now she knows that her dad didn’t “glue on any petals.” Still she remembers the story for the beauty of the moment. She is even more in love with her dad because of what he would do to show his love for her. She isn’t irate when she discovers her dad is a liar neither is she isn’t rejecting the truth about flowers and glue and petals. She isn’t using a scientific method to unpack the finer details of the inner workings of glue and horticulture to determine the true nature of her father’s heart. She knows him. She loves him. She definitely isn’t put off because she finds an inconsistency in the story. Quite the contrary, she is more in love with her dad than ever as she remembers the story and the day.
The Mr Spock, super scientist approach misses God. Trying to find the repeatable reaction to a particular stimulus in order to discover the character of God is ludicrous. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. Every story begins and ends with Him. He is not a formula to exploit for a return on an investment. He is not repeatable in any way. He is God and He loves us. Even when He is in a limited human body He surprises everyone every day. He rarely heals the same way. He answers questions with questions. He makes us think instead of relying on scientific empirical evidence. He gives us the mind of Christ so we can question what we read so we can see the real story outside the facts. He gives us the opportunity to be the participants in the story and still see Jesus in the story.
We may read about glue and flowers but we see Jesus hiding petals. The story doesn’t talk about pants pockets but we know they are there. The recorded “history” may be from an eight year old’s perspective, but we see the love of God in the inconsistencies. It may be recorded that God is mean and angry but if you look with the mind of Christ you see His love for His kids. If you every have a doubt about how good God really is, I mean emotionally filled with compassion like a husband for a wife or a father for a new-born baby, then look to Jesus. He has revealed the answer. The Holy Spirit in us will confirm it.
In the next post I want to give a Biblical example about Abraham and Sarah and Egypt. For now let me leave you with a truth from Jesus:
Matt 12:25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. (ESV)
Luke 4:40 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. (ESV)
God doesn’t make people sick and then heal them. That is a house divided. Jesus came to heal the sick. Sometimes we just get sick or the enemy is making us sick. It isn’t God trying to teach us a lesson. Why do I finish with that? I plan to stretch your brain to see Zuzu’s Petals in the story of Israel. They are there everywhere. God pours out the rain on the just and unjust. God’s character is to justify the ungodly. You will see in the documented, inspired story one perspective like Zuzu’s story. It is our joy to find the petals.