What God is Like (Musings on the character of God) #14

Worthy of trust… 

[I know this is getting a little lengthy for blog reading. But how does one talk about the way God is in 100 words or less. I couldn’t hardly “tweet” it all in 140 characters. So, hang in there with me for maybe another five or six offerings. I’d also like to hear from you about your thoughts…]

As I started down my own road of personal loss, one of the things the Lord seemed to convey consistently to me was: “Trust me!” I have to be honest, at first it was pretty tough for me to trust him when it seemed like he was either causing or allowing my losses. Everything I had believed and had encouraged others to believe was being tested. Like anyone else, I’ve had plenty of bouts with doubts over the years, but the temptation to question his trustworthiness intensified during this bleak time in my life. I had to decide whether or not I was going to continue trusting him even though he wasn’t coming to my rescue like a superhero.

Is he good even when he does nothing – nothing that I can see – to rescue me from these sufferings? Can I say he’s faithful even when my faith isn’t fulfilled? Platitudes wouldn’t suffice. If my faith were to survive I needed something more substantial than Christian clichés. Was God worthy of my trust or not?

One thing that I realized during those dismal days was how easy it is to espouse a hopeful view of what God is like when things are peachy. Previously I’d only seen suffering from a distance, not so up close and personal. My confidence in his character was something of an untested theory that I gained from reading the Bible and listening to others.

 

I now believe that God doesn’t ever act out of character with himself but is faithful to himself and to those he loves. That he is faithful (a term that finds its way into our conversations, creeds, and worship songs) means that everything that he is, he is consistently. He’s dependable and doesn’t change because the perfect has nowhere to go to improve. A home run is a home run. It can’t be improved on. It’s either over the fence or it’s not. Faithful means that what God is, he is, and not only when he’s in the mood. If he’s holy, he’s always holy. If he’s good, you can count on him being good all the time. He’s consistent.

If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 2 Timothy 2:12-13

He’s not only faithful to us, but to himself. He can’t “disown himself,” that is, he can’t stop acting like himself. When a person “disowns” others it’s because they don’t want to associate with them anymore. In response to atrocious behavior a person might disown another person and demand a complete and permanent separation from them. God will never do that with himself. He won’t separate himself from the way he is; he is faithful to himself. He will, only after a person adamantly and permanently disowns him, disown them; but he can’t ever disown himself.

As he is true to himself, he’s true to those he loves. He will never be found to be an “unfaithful” Husband to his Bride. He won’t forget about us, cheat on us, or decide he wants out of the marriage after all. As he is a “jealous lover,” requiring our full devotion, he will never give us any reason to suspect that we’ve been jilted for someone better than us.

What is it that makes God so trust-able? If I think about the people that I love and trust, they’re all people of good character – trustworthy people. While I might possess admiration for a talented person like an athlete or actor, it’s not their talent that inspires me to trust them. I don’t really trust my favorite baseball player or musician. I cheer when they come up to the plate or step on stage to play the guitar, but it’s to people with good character that I will give my heart. I applaud virtuosity, but I love and trust my trustworthy friends.

God wants to be loved and trusted, not simply admired and applauded. His power to do anything he wants is impressive; and it inspires a certain amount of faith. But to me that’s the kind of faith you’d have in an older brother who could defend you in a street fight. Yet it’s God’s character that draws me into a romance with him. His trustworthiness frees me to trust him. I know that he can do anything, and I am glad to have a God like that. But he is consistent with himself, that’s what I’m looking for in a friend in whom I can place my trust.

All my friends (the human ones) have flaws. Sometimes they have bad days and will inevitably do or say things from their bad side. Everyone has a bad side, and everyone lets it come out from time to time. But our Best Friend acts consistently with himself, with his good side – his only side. He is never influenced by anything or anyone from outside of himself in such a way as to be moved to contradict what is within himself. He’s consistent with who he is at all times.

To me, this is the essence of God’s faithfulness. He’s always the same. He doesn’t overpromise and under-deliver. He doesn’t ever act inconsistently with what he’s like. He can’t divide himself. All that he does is commensurate with all that he is. If he could be trusted yesterday, he can be trusted today, and again tomorrow. He “cannot disown himself.” 

Is there someone you know needs to be reminded that God is faithful? Send this to them or feel free to re-blog this to your readers. In the meantime, tell us a brief story about how God has proven worthy of your trust recently…

 

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