What Kind of God?
What kind of God prepares and plans for years to make God’s next major step in history—and then asks a teenage mother and her baby to carry it forward?
In spite of all the attention to Advent and Christmas given all over the world, not so much attention is given to the questions these narratives should raise for us:
What kind of God chooses Magi (pagan astrologers) and Shepherds (categorized in Rabbinic literature as such liars they were banned from giving testimony in court) to honor God’s next big step?
What kind of God chooses a lineage for the “Prince of Peace” that is genetically and legally associated with the great, but very bloody, Warrior King David, and then tops this choice off by designating the Warrior for Peace to be named “Joshua/Jesus” after the other bloodiest warrior in Israel’s history?
Would you feature Tamar (who pretended to be a prostitute in order to become pregnant), Rahab (a pagan Madame of one of Jericho’s brothels), and Bathsheba (involved in adultery) along with David (who engineered a blatant adulterous affair that then went horribly wrong) and Solomon (who used a thousand women as proof of his political and economic power) in your preparations for the birth of your “Holy One?”
And, what kind of God allows his new Son to immediately become an illegal alien in Egypt?
Then to put a fine point on it, would you start your inauguration of your now and future kingdom by allowing the future king to be labeled a traitor against the Empire, a blasphemer against God, and worthy of execution?
Of course, this only pushes the issue that should already be needling us from the prior history of God and his people in the Hebrew Bible: What kind of God creates a world that is a garden and then allows his final creation—humanity—to desecrate it if they so choose? What kind of God chooses people like Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah and Rachel (have you recently thought about the weaknesses and well as the strengths of these folk?) to be the people with whom God chooses to identify God’s Self as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?”
Church history since those biblical times doesn’t look any better. What kind of God would choose people like us followers of Jesus to decide how we will represent God in our surroundings today? Would you choose us to represent you in the world?
We spend a lot of time in our theology, doctrine, and worship attempting to tame a very untameable God. Perhaps we would do well to focus more on the biblical “I Am who I Am” (or, “I Will Be Who I Will Be”) representation of God and less on our attempts to tame God with our labels and explanations. Thankfully, this “God and Father of our Lord Jesus the Messiah” can’t be tamed! And that’s something to celebrate this Christmas season.