By Femi Aribisala
How do you deal with a God who decides to send you to the cross?
Many Christians make the fundamental mistake that Paul made, which he cautions that no one else should make. They see Jesus and God simply from a human point of view, forgetting that God is not a man. (Numbers 23:19).
When he later realised his error, Paul wrote: “From now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him thus no longer.” (2 Corinthians 5:16).
God is not a nice person according to the flesh. God is a spirit, and the spirit and the flesh can never see eye to eye. (Galatians 5:17).
Let me ask some leading questions here. What kind of father is God? Certainly not the kind we would readily recommend, according to the prescriptions of our humanity.
What kind of father tells his son to marry a prostitute as God did with Hosea? (Hosea 1:2). What kind of person tells the Levites to carry a sword and kill members of their own family and relations? (Exodus 32:27). What kind of person instructs Isaiah to go around without his trousers for three years? (Isaiah 20:2-4).
What kind of person instructs Saul to attack Amalek and kill all the men, women, children, babies, sheep, camel and donkeys? (1 Samuel 15:3).
What kind of person kills off millions of his own children, the Israelites, one by one over forty years in the wilderness?
God, that is who.
Whatever you may call that kind of person, I would have you know that he cannot be a nice person as men regard it. If God were a man, he would not be a nice man at all. God’s concept of goodness is different from that of a man.
Therefore, Jesus said to the Jews: “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15).
Rejection of Jesus
The truth is that most people don’t like the God of the bible, and most don’t like Jesus of Nazareth. The scriptures had forewarned that Jesus would be despised and rejected by men and that we would not esteem him. (Isaiah 53:3). Don’t make the mistake of thinking this prophecy is only applicable to the Jews of biblical Israel. It is not.
The bible is a living word and the word of God never passes away. (Matthew 24:35). Accordingly, even Christians today don’t like Jesus; although many would not admit this. But because we don’t like him, we don’t want to know him and have great difficulty being like him.
We don’t see in Jesus the beauty we desire, therefore, the church has been busy reconstructing the biblical image of Jesus. The preferred portrait is now one of a handsome European-looking man with blue eyes. Jesus is no longer naked and unashamed but covered on the cross.
The cross itself has become an ornament that is worn and not a burden that is carried. The gospel is now preached with the enticing words of man’s wisdom. As a result, we have ended up with a worldly Jesus and with a worldly faith.
Who wants a God who is a servant? Who wants a God that rides a donkey instead of a chariot? Listen to a lot of the sermons preached in our churches today and you immediately realise that Christians don’t want that kind of God.
Some don’t even want a Messiah who drinks alcohol; therefore, we insist that all Jesus drank was grape juice.
But why would Jesus get a bad report as a wine-bibber for drinking grape juice? (Matthew 11:19).
Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, did not like Jesus. How do you deal with a God who washes your feet? Peter would have none of it. (John 13:6-8). How do you deal with a God who would allow himself to be killed? “Be it far from you, Lord,” cried Peter, “this shall not happen to you.”
But this only earned him a very sharp rebuke: “Jesus turned on Peter and said, ‘Get away from me, you Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are thinking merely from a human point of view, and not from God’s.’” (Matthew 16:23).
How do you deal with a God who decides to send you to the cross? If that is what the Lord had in store for him, Peter wanted to know what he had in mind for John. But Jesus simply told him to mind his own business. (John 21:21-22). When the crunch came, is it any wonder that Peter denied Jesus not once but three times?
For this reason, the prophets warned that the Messiah would be a rock of offense. He would do things in a way and manner that would not meet human approval.
As a twelve-year-old, Jesus stayed all day and night in the temple for three days without telling his parents where he was. That would be unacceptable in any decent family. When rebuked about this by his parents, he replied: “Why did you seek me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). This would have earned him a few slaps in the families of today.
Jesus made a whip, beat people and smashed their wares in the temple. He called a woman who came to request healing for her child a dog. (Matthew 15:26). At times, people can be won over with gentle words. At times, they need a smack on the head to see sense. Jesus did both.
He refused to help John the Baptist when Herod arrested him. When he knew that his good friend Lazarus was dead, he said he was glad. (John 11:14-15). He kept company with disreputable people. (Matthew 9:11). He took sides with a woman caught in adultery. (John 8:7). He asked a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years if he would like to be healed. Then he only healed that one man and left all the others unhealed. (John 5:6-9).
He pronounced woe on the Pharisees and abused them, calling them whitewashed tombstones. (Matthew 23:27). He called some people fools. (Matthew 23:17). He told the Jews that the devil was their father. (John 8:44). He denied his own mother and brothers. (Matthew 12:47-50).
Clearly, Jesus is not a nice man as men call nice. But this same Jesus is now our righteousness. For: “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we put on our prized robes of righteousness, we find they are but filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6).
Therefore, we must be divorced from the niceness of men and be married to the goodness of God. “Everything that we have- right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start- comes from God by way of Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).
Jesus says: “Blessed is he who is not offended because of me.” (Matthew 11:6). This means blessed is he who is not offended by how God does things. Blessed is he who is not offended by what God chooses to do and what he chooses not to do.