It’s a bit of a habit of mine, and it applies to both earthly superiors and God.
It was the poet Xenophanes, I believe, who brought up the irony of gods- that they look like people. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? We want gods to be like superhero versions of us, because we are arrogant. it’s still true today. Even those of us who are Christians, who supposedly “know better,” we too like to imagine that God is a certain way so we can sleep at night. And when He doesn’t fit our mold, we may want to rebel.
Romans is a confusing book. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it will make you think. No bobble-head-Jesus theology here. Just so we’re all clear, I don’t feel like blogging only about the things that everyone agrees on. I don’t see why we, as Christians, gloss over most of the Bible because what it says confuses or scares us. If we really believe that it is the Word, then I think we should make it our business to find out what it really means. Even if we’re not always successful. Let’s not be shy! Let’s talk about things. Let’s talk about things like judgment, adultery, rape, genocide, homosexuality, socialism. At least sometimes. But let’s not condemn each other in the process.
Check it out:
19 You will say to me then, “Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction; 23 and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 including us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,
“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
Okay, so the first part of this may not seem that objectionable. Verses 19-20, I’m tracking, “Okay, fair enough, good, right, amen to that.” And then verses 21-22. At this point, I’m more than a little indignant. I’m pretty mad at God, mad at Paul too. How could He? Sure, I acknowledge that He has the power to do what He wants, and the right to do what He wants… But why, why would He EVER make people who were meant to be destroyed? Wasn’t it their choice to rebel and be destroyed? What is this predestination or something?! Is this the same God who sent His son to die for us? The same One who gave “The Great Commission?”
Who am I? Who are You, God? I thought I knew You. Why should I listen you You ever again if You’re going to be so unjust?
Before I have a cow right here on the internet, I think I should throw in two observations. Observation: Paul is being hypothetical. You can see that. But why would he be purely hypothetical? Does it mean that God didn’t create people to be destroyed to show His glory? Why would Paul say it like that if it wasn’t true?
Observation 2: He could be referring back to the Old Testament human-God relations in order to make a larger point. But even if God only did this in the past to people like the Egyptians who enslaved the Israelites… I still don’t quite get it.
This is a subject of personal importance for me. I say that because I know people who are not Christian, obviously, but these people often strengthen my faith. I know that sounds weird, but it seems like the more they oppose God and the more i watch them living for all the wrong things, the more I realize just how real God is. I know it sounds like shallow faith. Anyways, how it relates to this verse is this: I suppose I would feel kind of bad if people were being condemned just for my benefit. Just so I could see how great God is.
God, do you really think that people are so expendable? I always thought that anyone could be a child of God. Sure it takes faith, but I don’t understand why people need to be condemned at birth.
Can someone help? Am I looking at this in all the wrong way?
Perhaps I am being a little arrogant by dictating what God should be like and what He should do with Himself. I know that allowing this to plague me is not demonstrating trust in God. But I would like to understand what’s going on very badly. I can’t be the only one who’s ever wondered about this.
I suppose a closing remark is in order. I don’t want to conclude that God doesn’t exist and it’s every man for himself. Even though God knows who’s going to be saved and who’s not, we don’t. So that kills some of the arrogance and laziness that can spring from predestination. We don’t know. And that’s why we must preach the Gospel to the world. On that note, I sign off.