I hold as a core belief that there are fundamental, unchangeable things about the character of God that Scripture reveals to us. These attributes of God are objective and knowable. However, that does not mean that I always understand these attributes correctly. I believe that I could quote the Westminster Confession of Faith complete with Scripture references and still miss the truth of what is communicated by the Scripture quoted.
Lydia Brownback talks about this in the introduction to her little book entitled Trust.
Perhaps the most faith-shaking, fear-generating experiences are those in which God provides a blessing and then seems to pull the rug out from under us by taking away the blessing as soon as we get a taste of it. The single woman who has waited years for a godly husband meets Mr. Right. God has provided at last! She feels God’s smile as she prepares for her wedding and her new life as a married woman. And then two days before the wedding, Mr. Right changes his mind and calls the whole thing off. The grief-stricken bride wonders why God allowed her to get her hopes up, only to see them dashed to pieces. “Why would a loving God do that?” she asks, and her faith crumbles. God is not who she thought he was.
When we go through that sort of experience, our foundations can be shaken to the core. “I obviously cannot depend on God,” we think, “so somehow I have to fix everything. And if God could do THIS to me, what other painful things might he do?” What we don’t see at such times and in the swirl of such thoughts is the fact that we were resting on the wrong foundation in the first place. Our view of God has actually been wrong all along. We’d thought we’d been relying on God, but the truth is, we’d actually been relying on our idea of God and on what we were hoping God would do for us to make our lives happier.
I was struck by the phrase Lydia uses–“God is not who she thought he was.” She goes on throughout the devotional book to expose various wrong views of God and replaces them with the truth of who He is from Scripture. This idea was reinforced to me today as I read a quote from A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis, written after watching his beloved wife die of bone cancer.
My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast …. The Incarnation is the supreme example; it leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in ruins.
Iconoclast — a breaker or destroyer of images.
Jesus spends a great deal of His ministry destroying the wrong images of Him set up by His culture. I am reading through the gospel of Mark, and I am amazed at how clearly Jesus teaches His disciples about His death and how they miss the point almost every time. I just reached his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where the masses shout blessings on Him. But instead of accepting thier accolades and basking in them for a bit, Jesus immediately sets out to crush their warped image of Him–He cleanses the temple, curses a fig tree, and takes on the chief priests, teachers of the law, and elders. He refuses to cater to wrong views of Himself. He didn’t do it during His life on earth, and He certainly doesn’t do it now.
Fast forward 2000 years. I face a circumstance that doesn’t fit my view of God or where I thought my life would be if I followed Him. God refuses to allow me to continue long term in my warped views of Him. He does not cater to them. Instead, He insists that I know Him correctly. And the process is both painful and beautiful. It’s painful to have my naive, idealist notions of Him, His Body, and His kingdom crushed. But it’s beautiful to see the truth as it emerges from Scripture as my wrong views falls away.
Phil. 3: 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,