Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tuesday Toss-up

Today's Tuesday Toss-up, interestingly enough, was dropped into my mind by a commercial I heard on the local Christian radio station. The commercial was for a book. And the toss-up is actually part of the title of the book. I have ordered the book, and am interested in starting to read it and see what it's all about, but I'm just as interested in hearing your reactions to the title, which in fact ... is a question.

A side note:

Now, I know many of you have strong opinions, so please ... share.

But I also know that many of you are intimidated to share your feelings because you're afraid of what people will say or think. Trust me when I say ... this is a NON-JUDGMENTAL ZONE. Your comments are safe. I will not judge you, and I'm pretty confident that no one else will either, so don't be afraid to comment!

I strongly feel that Tuesday Toss-up is a tool that can be used in understanding and even learning, as well as the maturing process that every Christian faces ... and learning how to share your beliefs (apologetics).

Apologetics is: the verbal defense; speech in defense a reasoned statement or argument; always being ready to make a defense.

Scripture backs this up: "...but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence." (1 Peter 3:15)

So let us strive to share our comments with gentleness and reverence!


Okay ... Here's the title of the book: Out of Your Comfort Zone: Is Your God Too Nice?

Here's the basis: Many Christians worship a friendly, gift-giving God, one who never challenges or requires anything of them.

Here's the Tuesday Toss-up:

Is this the God we find in the Bible?
Do you think the images we have and share of God are too nice?
Have we "niced God up" so that others will be more willing to accept Him?

Go ahead ... comment away!


Morning Glory said...

I think the "nice" image we try to portray for God is not a bad thing because God IS love and forgiveness and acceptance and goodness. But I sometimes wonder in our efforts, do we also gloss over the fact that God has very specific instructions for how we live our lives once we commit them to Him. He is a God of judgment, whether we like that or not. He does require changes in us, even though He initially accepts us as we are, warts and all. Living a Godly life, pleasing to Him, is a daily challenge. The God I serve is about love and grace and forgiveness, but He does expect something from me in return. That's the part I think we sometimes try to protect people from so it will look pleasant to them.

Heather Smith said...

The term "itching ears" comes to mind. I believe we are living in the last days, and I believe that men want to hear what they want to hear whether it helps them or not. The problem is that many churches care more for numbers than souls. They don't talk about the God of judgement, they simply talk about the God of love. Yes, God is love, but He is also holy. In His holiness, He demands payment for our sins. In His love, He sent His Son to make that payment. However, many pastors avoid the topic of sin because they don't want to offend the people in the pews. God's love is directly related to the God of judgement. We must face one or the other. If we accept Christ's gift of salvation, we can bask in God's love, but if we reject His salvation, we will face God's judgement. This is the message that needs to be told to a lost and dying world!

kpjara said...

In the spirit of requested 'gentleness' I'll say:


Tess said...

Regardless of how we "spin" God, His word will never pass away, and that is how we must live our lives. I believe that if I live my life to please Him and to fulfill His commandments, and strive to make living for God such a joy that it will become irresistable to unbelievers.

Katrina said...

Well, yes, I do think that many Christians "nice God up" so that He looks more attractive to others (as if any "invention" of ours could be more attractive than the true God!). The thing is - this is so dangerous. If these listeners "believe" and are "saved".... are they really? If they are believing in a God who is not the God of the Bible, is their eternity secure? Or will they be some of the ones to whom He says, "I never knew you." Do we want to be responsible for that just because we don't want to "scare" people away by portraying and teaching God as He is revealed in Scripture?

There is so much about God that draws others to Him - His love, His peace, His joy. But if He is not also a holy God who will one day judge sin and sinners, we'd have to reason to need a relationship with Him, to need His forgiveness. Yes, we should share His love, share His grace... but also share the truth of His holiness.

flipflop said...

Yes I do.

While in the same aspect it's also better on our on ears as well.

Many Christians only want to hear about the goodness of God, the loving God, but not the judging angry God.

I believe that since we have put a "nice" spin on God that Christians have conformed more to the world, and it should be the exact opposite. It's more of entertainment now and not repentance.

Shalee said...

Okay, I totally did the wrong thing and read everyone's response before I put mine up. Sorry everyone.

The God I read about in the Bible requires a lot of me. All of me as a matter of fact. I don't know how anyone could say that God doesn't expect anything in return. Why the call to repentence then?

God is love. He is anxiously waiting for us to accept His mercy and grace. But it does come at a cost - the cost of believing that Jesus came and died for our sins, that we owe our lives to God for such a salvation as this, that there is nothing that we can do to earn this gift. However, the acceptance of the gift will create changes within our hearts, our thoughts, our outward lives. We can never live up to the example of our brother Jesus, but with God's grace and strength, He can change us into the servants that He wants us to be.

If we see God only as the gift-giver or the nice God, then we are lying to ourselves. The Bible also indicates that God can be jealous, a judge sitting on the throne casting away the unjust, a disciplinarian to those he loves. These don't make him any less nice, just more fully understood.

I think we are doing a disservice to God when we don't reveal the entire picture to others.

(For some reason I have the parable of Lazarus and the rich man running through my head. The rich man wanted Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn his (rich man's) brothers, but Abraham says that the prophets are there. If they won't listen to the prophets, then they won't listen.)

Does anyone remember how the prophets spoke? They lamented and cried and told the Isrealites what would happen and what would come if they didn't change. If God is the same today as He was yesterday as He will be tomorrow, then we have to take it all when we wear the robe of Christ.

Since we live in such an "it's all about me and what I can get" society, I can understand why others feel they need to soften it up. The problem will come when they realize that it's not about them and God does require quite a bit of sacrifice of ourselves, and I don't mean giving up your Sunday mornings to sit in a building with others.

Gibee, is this what you meant when you said comment away? Because I did.

Everyday Mommy said...

Great question G!

You ask is the pop-culture "friendly, gift-giving God, one who never challenges or requires anything of them" the true God?

Is this the God we find in the Bible?

Emphatically, no. This is the greatest weakness of the Western post-modern church. Fleeing from the cold analysis of modernism, the post-modern wants to "feel it". They've created a God they can worship, just like the Israelites created the golden calf. Because we do not know His Word we do not know Him. He is not our cosmic butler. He is the Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth. We have lost the fear of the Lord God. And, Scripture clearly teaches us that fear is the beginning of wisdom.

Note: I would encourage great caution when reading R.T. Kendall.

Praying for your Prodigal said...

Great toss-up this week. Often, I observe we live in a watered-down society. That is.....we waterdown the expectations of morals, ethics, and yes, even God--so we can more easily understand and participate in life. It's clear, the generation before us understood that life was hard. With the absence of wars, economical disasters, and growing technicalogocial and medical advances--it seems we have come to expect that life is predictably good.

Somehow--with these blessings--we have become confused...and have been programed to believe that WE are responsible for this absence of problems. We no longer can have an accident--someone else has to pay the price (legally) for our loss. We no longer have to abide by generally accepted standards...someone else can no longer dictate their will on the general society. It seems the natural consequence of this--is that we have watered down our standards.

And, yes, we have done that with our understanding of God as well. One of my pet peeves regarding the "Seeker friendly" church trend is this: we no longer call sin....a sin. We no longer define God by His Standard--we put our own diluted standard on His Name.

The importance of reading God's Word and studying it cannot be understated. How arrogant are we that we think we know or could even understand who God truly is. Yes, He is our Father. Yes, He is Grace, Love, and Redemption. Still, we should not redefine the gift that he has graciously offered; we must only accept it.

Like an earthly parent, He loves His children. With that love comes discipline. Discipline for our own good. Discipline for abundant living--preparing us for our eternal life. He has created us with free will--but we are not on par with the Creator. We are loved by Him, but He is Sovreign and HOLY! How righteous have we become to believe anything else!

As Heather has stated--I believe we are living in the last days. Satan is working overtime to deceive and destroy. I think one of his more effective tools is deceit. He has put just enough fog in our thinking--that we have subconciously rewritten the laws and principles of God. By not calling sin--a sin, by compromising the ONLY way--God's way....we have become deceived....which always leads to destruction.

I'm not sure why we are afraid to fear God--to proclaim all the characteristics of God. Do we think we can better evangelize if we water-Him-down!? Does it make US feel better about ourselves if we don't acknowledge our sinful nature--compared to HIS righteousness? Hm? Interesting dilemma. In contemporary times, we don't do well with dilemma's, with perceived injustice, with glass ceilings! I guess this isn't new--when reading the Bible-humankind was always trying to be on par with God.

How does this apply to my daily living? I guess if I really believe what I type--I shouldn't complain when my faith is being tested, or I am being finetuned by a firey struggle. If I really believe what I believe, I will surrender my pain to the ONE who created me and has promised to "make all things new." Geesh--there's another reason to water-down God--THAT is hard work! In this fast-food world we live in, filled with easy answers and quick solutions.....hard work feels like a remnant from the Jurassic age! Still, his love never changes, no knows time, and is always faithful! So, there's still a time for the hard work of being a Christian!


sarah said...

Wow, girl, you really got me going GiBee! I started to write a comment here, then it just kind of kept going and going. I decided to post it on my blog, so as to not completely take over your comment section. Read my response here.