The "Fluffy" God



Many of us prefer a fluffy version of God. We embrace His loving attributes along with His goodness and His grace. To many of us, “21st Century God” is a little more politically correct. He has manners just like us. He is accepting of people, and much of the Old Testament version (with its wrath, holiness, and judgment) is glossed over and neglected. 

Jesus also is portrayed as a soft spoken, “feminized version” who is limited to holding children in his lap and carrying white lambs over his pristine shoulders. This Jesus seems to be incapable of offense, or throwing tables over in the temple. He is nonviolent, He loves all people, He includes all lifestyles, and His most popularized quote is “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

But we do not just embrace a nice God and a pleasant Jesus, we also embrace a small God. One that is manageable and a little more comfortable than the Biblical pictures. We miniaturize Him to fit into different departments of our life where He can help. “Portable God” is invited into careers, families, or whatever else is convenient—with the end hope that, with His participation, we will experience blessing or success. Some of us minimize God so small that He becomes no longer the object of our worship, just a means to get us what we want. A tool that we use.

If this is so, many modern Americans and many modern Christians are in for a cruel awakening. What if the soft version of God that many claim to know is actually not God at all? What if God is not the tame lion we presumed Him to be? In Psalm 90, the Psalm of Moses, we see a shocking picture of God. He is not the version our western prerogatives would prefer—nor is he one that we can deal with.

1Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
    or you brought forth the whole world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You turn people back to dust,
    saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
A thousand years in your sight
    are like a day that has just gone by,
    or like a watch in the night.
Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
    they are like the new grass of the morning:
In the morning it springs up new,
    but by evening it is dry and withered.

We are consumed by your anger
    and terrified by your indignation.
You have set our iniquities before you,
    our secret sins in the light of your presence.
All our days pass away under your wrath;
    we finish our years with a moan.
10 Our days may come to seventy years,
    or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
    for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger!
    Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
12 Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

This God is not "pocket sized," nor is He tame. In this passage there is a wildness to Him and a transcendence that we know nothing about. Any attempt to describe Him instantly falls short. This is the God who has existed in eternity past. This is the God who brings forth mountains and returns people to dust. Before this God, entire ages of mankind pass before in in an instant. This is the God who sweeps people away in death, who sees all secret sins, and who judges accordingly. He is a wrathful, vengeful Consuming Fire—unrelenting and terribly holy.

Who can stand before such a God?

Moses most definitely could not. In the Psalm, his response in the presence of the Great I Am is not one that is comfortable or flippant. Moses instead is “terrified by His indignation” and is left groaning beneath the weight of eternity. In light of God as He truly is, Moses' own life is painfully brief--so thin and fragile. Next to the offensively concrete nature of God, Moses feels strangely transparent. There is a similarity to Isaiah’s response before Yahweh God in Isaiah 6: “Woe is me! I am undone!” “I have no business standing before a God like this.”

Oswald Chambers wrote:

“There is an aspect of Jesus that chills the heart of the disciple to the core and makes the whole spiritual life gasp for breath. This strange Being with his face ‘set like a flint’ and his striding determination, strikes terror into me. He is no longer Counsellor and Comrade. He is taken up with a point of view I know nothing about, and I am amazed at Him. At first I was confident I understood Him, but now I am not so sure. I begin to realize there is a distance between Jesus Christ and me; I can no longer be familiar with Him. He is ahead of me and He never turns around; I have no idea where He is going, and the goal has become strangely far off.” 

Are we acquainted only the comfortable and loving version of God?" Such a view is not only foolish; it is dangerous. The truth is: a God that is “fluffy” is a God not worth following. While convenient and practical, He is a God that gives nothing. He calls us to nothing. Before Him, our lives are as meaningless as the culturally defined attributes we assign to Him.

We had best learn to practice what Chambers called the “Discipline of Dismay.” The practice of seeing God and being undone; of being completely broken before the presence of the Almighty. And as we see God as He really is—in his magnitude, weight, and terror—then Christ becomes that much more precious. The mercy and the love of His eternal redemptive plan becomes that much sweeter. God's call to us goes from a prior annoyance to an eternal summons that is actually worth following after. In light of His grandeur, a pursuit of God becomes an immense privilege, and a life lived before Him makes everything sacred.

Only before this God can we truly be broken. Only before His holiness does the gospel really mean something. When we experience dismay and a legitimate fear of Him, only then will our lives find meaning.


"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."  -Proverbs 9:10



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