By Femi Aribisala
Over the years, I have learnt many things about God that I did not like. One of those things is that God is not like me or, to put it more appropriately, I am not like God. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8). But the challenge of my life is to be like God.
God does not like the people I like. And I don’t like the people God likes. God likes the people who like him, and I like the people who like me. But people who like me often don’t like God.
Moreover, I like people who are nice to me. But God does not like nice people. God really liked David but David was not a nice person. He made a living by raiding innocent villages with a gang of area boys, killing every single one of the inhabitants and looting their property. He committed adultery, got Bathsheba pregnant, killed Uriah her husband and then married her.
On his deathbed, David was still plotting the deaths of others. Nevertheless, God loved him.
Jacob was also a horrible human being. Esau was a much better person than him. Jacob conned Esau out of his birthright, and he deceived his father into giving him his brother’s blessing. Nevertheless, God still liked Jacob. As a matter of fact, he preferred him to his victim; Esau
Key of faith
“Without faith it is impossible to please (God).” (Hebrews 11:6). Therefore, God likes people who believe in him. He likes those that are passionate about him. He likes people who are zealous for him. He does not like those in the flesh. (Romans 8:8). He only likes those in the spirit. But, very often, these are not likable people.
For instance, Phinehas was obnoxious in his self-righteousness. In his zeal for God, he drove a spear through an Israelite man and a Moabite woman, killing them on the spot. This was nothing short of wicked. However, what he did pleased God. As a matter of fact, because of what he did, God made a covenant of “everlasting priesthood” with Phinehas.
Since “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” and since we are not saved through works, but by grace through faith, being nice does not feature in God’s equation. Niceness is not even a fruit of the Spirit. But kindness is. (Galatians 5:22). God is kind. (1 Corinthians 13:4). But he is not nice.
God likes kind people. He also likes good people. But no man can be good or kind without God’s enablement. However, good people are often not nice. I am not a good person, but I can be nice. I try to be nice and succeed at times. I am even nice to people I don’t like. But when I want to be good to someone, I am not nice to them. When God enables me to be good to someone, I am often harsh to them.
Rock of offense
Jesus was not likable. The more we are like Jesus, the fewer people will like us. Jesus was a rock of offense. The more we are like Jesus, the more offensive we will be. Jesus is not nice, therefore, we shouldn’t be nice either. The Lamb of God was also known as the Lion of Judah for a reason. The lion is not a nice animal.
When we think of the word “nice,” we think of “the goody two shoes.” But this certainly cannot apply to Jesus. Most artists’ renditions portray Jesus as the sweetest, nicest-looking man, usually accompanied by lambs or children. This is not entirely wrong since Jesus is the Good Shepherd and he did love to bless children. But that does not mean he was nice.
Niceness is not a godly virtue. It is possible to act “nice” outwardly while secretly hating or deriding a person in our heart. We do it all the time, either because we want to look good in the eyes of others, or because we want to be diplomatic.
But Jesus did not have such concerns. He had no qualms ruffling feathers. He did not pay any attention to public opinion. He pointed out people’s wrongdoing without caring whose ox was gored. He spoke the truth to the “powerful” religious leaders without mincing his words. He did not care about being politically correct.
Kindness is not niceness
We love to say: “God is love!” This is true. But the love of God is not a nice kind of love. In 1 Corinthians 13, love is described as patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not rude, selfless, not easily angered, and ungrudging. “Nice” never shows up on the list. But “kind” does.
The difference between niceness and kindness is like the difference between tolerating someone and embracing him. It is the difference between pretense and genuineness. Niceness operates essentially on the outside, whereas kindness comes from the heart. Niceness often comes from the desire not to ruffle feathers; but kindness comes from the love for others and the concern for their well-being,
A nice person might give money to a beggar, but a kind person goes the extra mile to invite him home to lunch. A nice person would ask how you are, but a kind person really wants to know if you are alright. Nice people are occasionally good, but kind people are always good.
Jesus was quintessentially kind. He touched lepers. He had time for children. He ministered to the sick. He ate meals with the dregs and rejects of society. He says: “I have not come into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world.”
He came especially for people who are discouraged, beaten down, and oppressed. If you belonged in that category, you would not want some nice person to give you a pat on the back and say: “It is well!” You want someone to hold you, love you, and encourage you until you get back on your feet again?
If we’re really honest with ourselves, we would admit that we don’t really want people to be nice to us. “Nice” is just what we settle for when what we really want is kindness. Jesus did not care about niceness: he cared about goodness, and he cared about righteousness.
Nice people don’t make enemies. But Jesus did. He made lots of enemies. He cared about righteousness more than making and keeping friends.
Righteousness of God
Niceness is not a godly virtue. We can be nice to someone while hating him in our heartWhat kind of person is God? He says of himself: “[DFA1] [DFA2] [DFA3] I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; nor is there any who can deliver from my hand.” (Deuteronomy 32:39).
Who does the Lord kill before he makes alive? Who does he wound and then heal? God is not only talking about his enemies? He is also talking about his children.
Christian apologetics are quick to say God is good. But they miss the road by failing to point out that the same God has no qualms about destroying his own people. They tell us that God is love but fail to add that the same loving God is also a killer.