We serve a mysterious God.
The apostle Paul described God’s wisdom as “a mystery that has been hidden” (1 Cor. 2:7). From this and beyond I have drawn three conclusions: (1) God is too wise to be mistaken; (2) His mystery includes His frequent choice of flawed humanity to demonstrate who He really is; and (3) many saints continue to be consistent sinners because preachers have not taught their congregations the mystery and wisdom of God as it is explained in Scripture.
We preach a lot about grace, and so we should. Grace allowed the children of Israel to wear the same clothes and shoes during the 40 years of their wilderness wandering (Deut. 8:4; 29:5).
We preach about God’s unconditional love. That’s particularly relevant and important given these days of violence, homegrown terrorists, dehumanization of immigrants, rising racism, abusive political rhetoric, and public attitudes that degrade men and women made in the image of God. God’s ways are not ours:
We preach about God’s second chance, but often forget that His forgiveness extends to at least 70 times seven (Matt. 18:22).
We preach our 28 Fundamental Beliefs, because “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). These truths are like music to our ears, but they lack the melodies, harmonies, and dynamics that define the reality of our God if they’re not seen in the light of His character.
God promised to lead us into green pastures, but He does not prevent us from walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
We serve a God who is compassionate toward sinners, but who sometimes convicts saints so deeply that it’s like a knife plunged into our conscience.
We serve a God who sometimes answers prayers with a resounding “No!”
We serve a God who will never give us more than we can bear, but gave His only Son more than He could bear; so much so that it broke His heart and killed Him just so we might live. We feel, from personal experience, that God sometimes allows us more than we can bear: as when children are murdered and lawmakers do nothing to curb the plague of guns that kill them.
We serve a God who instructed Moses to write that no illegitimate person can enter the assembly of God, even to the tenth generation (Deut. 23:2-5). Yet God sent His Son, born of a woman, without a known earthly father (as are many who love and serve Him today), whom His own people accused of being illegitimate (John 8:41).
We serve a God who promised to lead us into green pastures, but He does not prevent us from walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
We serve a God who told Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah. When Abraham obeyed, at the very last second God sent an angel to stop him. But when God’s sinless Son was on a cross at Calvary as an innocent sacrifice for sin, there was no hand to stay His crucifixion, thereby assuring our salvation.
O what a mighty, mysterious God we serve! Angels bow before Him; heaven and earth adore Him. How can we not love and obey Him?
Hyveth Williams is a professor at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University.