Warmly Personal God | Romans 15:1-6
Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next. May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus! Romans 15:1-6 | MSG
“Warmly personal God” is no doubt the last thing many of us will think first when asked about the God revealed in the pages of Old Testament lore. Dorothy Sayers with tongue in cheek catches well our typical conception: “He is omnipotent and holy. He created the world and imposed on man conditions impossible of fulfillment; he is very angry if these are not carried out. He sometimes interferes by means of arbitrary judgments and miracles, distributed with a good deal of favoritism. He likes to be truckled (i.e. pandered) to and is always ready to pounce on anybody who trips up over a difficulty in the law or is having a bit of fun. He is rather like a dictator, only larger and more arbitrary.” Yeah, that pretty well catches it. When Paul was Saul, he would no doubt have agreed! But as Paul, loved by God and called by his grace, “dependably steady and warmly personal God” is the tune he now sings. One’s vantage point makes a huge difference in what one sees, doesn’t it? What we can see as cold, cruel, and harsh from another vantage point can offer warm, personal counsel to others that keeps us alert for opportunities for life and love all around us. What for one is a chorus of banality is for another source material for a harmonious choir. Through the past two millennia there has been an ongoing motion for amputation of the Old Testament. Down with the bloody Red Queen, the harsh and hard God, the larger and more arbitrary dictator! In with the Lamb of God, the meek and loving Son who gets us. I get that. I do. But I would bid us look harder, though it threatens us with whiplash. There is more here. They are bound together, the two. The One flowing into the other…
What is your primary image of God from the Old Testament? How does that image of God relate to how you see God through Jesus?
Father, help me to see you as you are, not as I would imagine you. Let me not pass too quickly over unsavory portraits of your past movements in this world, but let me not fixate on them too much either. Take my hand and lead me through these Old Testament pages into your mercy that triumphs over judgment. Through Jesus.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.