What type of burger will I create today? I look at all the 'create your own taste' options. Swiss cheese or cheddar cheese, or no cheese? If I don't feel like tomato today then I don't choose tomato. I make it like I want it because I am the creator! How cool is that?
So why can't it be the same with God? Sometimes this is how our 'fast food' culture sees it: let's make our own god (small 'g' intended).
We look at all the attributes of God and think, 'let's get rid of the ones we don't feel like today'. Like an angry God, or any reference to 'fear' of the Lord. In fact, how about erasing any God that judges, because I feel like having a happy god today.
And what about the attributes that are too much effort to think about—all that stuff about sacrifices to come into God's holy presence is too hard to understand.
So what does a McDonald's faith leave you with? A digestible god made in our own image. Because we are the creator, right?
All sarcasm aside, we all do it. Books are written about it (e.g. A more Christ like God: A more beautiful gospel, by B. Jersak). The principle is the same. We create our own god choosing the attributes we like and reject the ones we don't or can't be bothered wrestling with to understand.
The problem is that the infinite God is beyond our finite minds. Yet, in His mercy (an attribute of God) He reveals Himself through the Bible and ultimately, Jesus. His Spirit counsels us to understand the attributes of God and also ourselves. He is the Creator so we don't get to choose. We are made in His image, not the other way around.
A guide to what God is like
Have a look at the Westminster Confession of Faith. It lists the Bible references of many attributes of God. This was a document that the church in the U.K. developed in 1646 to outline what they believed about the Christian faith.
There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.
Doing the hard work
Which attributes are you drawn to? Are there any you don't understand and need to read more about?
I find this task a challenge. Some of these concepts are difficult. Like a God that is 'almighty'. The Old Testament is full of 'the Lord God Almighty'. The word in the King James Version Bible is Lord of 'Hosts', or Lord of 'Armies'. Army? A Divine Being that is the head of an army and, by definition, waging war on someone or something?!
So, I have a choice at this moment: I can create the happy Jesus I want and redefine 'Hosts' with some mental gymnastics, or I can do the hard work and understand the term in context. That is, the victory the Head of the Army, Christ, wins in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 or in Revelation chapter 12 from verse 7.
Burger or salad?
The other problem with a McDonald's faith is if we choose one attribute over another it impacts both. Like trying to stand a tripod up with only two legs, or creating a burger with tomato, onion and lettuce, but no bread bun. That isn't a burger. That's a salad!
Same if you want a God of amazing grace but you remove a God of justice. Grace is by definition 'undeserved favour'. We deserve judgement for breaking the law, yet we get given eternal life. That's both amazing and grace!
If a just and righteous God sees sin He can't ignore it. Justice has to be done. Yet in His grace Jesus steps in to take that punishment on behalf of His people. God remains just and displays a grace far, far more amazing than if there was no attribute of justice or righteousness. That's good news.
God is God and we are not. He is the Creator, we are the creation. He is beyond our mortal understanding so we have to accept and trust His attributes knowing that He is good.
In my next article I will look at a favourite attribute which is also, in my opinion, the most misunderstood: God as love.
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and pastor.
Jeremy Dover's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/jeremy-dover.html