I know a woman who was sexually abused as a child by her father. When asked if she believed that Jesus is God, she replied, “No. I can’t believe that because of what my father did to me.”
I know a guy who cringes at the thought of Christianity because of the hypocrisy and arrogance of its people and its claims.
“We [Christians] are the stumbling blocks for unbelievers, before they ever get to the stumbling block of the Cross.” – John Piper
How are we to view God in light of the atrocities that we see every day in the world? Or worse, how do we view God in light of the actions of those who claim to know him?
This question is as relevant for us today as it was 2000 years ago when a man named Paul wrote a letter to church in Rome regarding the teachings of Christianity. Paul penned the question this way;
“What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means!” (Rom. 3:3-4).
I think he could have worded it this way: “Are we to look at people and their actions and judge God?” His answer, absolutely not! Yet, how many of us look at Christians and judge God by their actions. Or how many of us look at Muslims and judge God by their actions. At the end of the day we throw up our hands and say that it is better to not believe in God.
As a result, we never get to see the beauty of the beach, because we turn around at the ugliness of the parking lot.
In Paul’s time he was referring to the Jews; the Jews who had been entrusted with the Oracles of God (Rom 3:2) and the adoptions, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises (Rom 9:4). Does their rejection of the savior represent God’s unfaithfulness or their unbelief?
In our day we look at Christians and ask the same question, does their unfaithfulness to God, represent God’s character? Is God a hypocrite? Does God sin? Is God evil? Paul’s answer: by no means! Rather, let God be true and everyone a liar.” (Rom. 3:4)
Paul is making a very simple, but often overlooked, point here; we should not be so quick to judge God based on humanity’s actions. For is humanity an exact representation of God? Has he not given us the freedom to act? Has he not ordained our “free will”? Indeed he has. Most of us would argue that we are free and yet we all do wrong, but God never does wrong.
God is true, God is faithful, God is loving, God is compassionate, God is merciful, God is holy. I think most people, if they believe in God, would agree with these attributes.
Then to what should we look for truth? If we can’t look at people and see God, where can we look? Where is truth? How can we know God’s character? What is the basis for Paul’s statement that God is faithful?
My answer won’t surprise anyone; it is Jesus. Col 1:15 says “He is the image of the invisible God.” I would challenge you to read through the gospels and see Jesus’s character. See that he exactly represents God. Nobody can argue against Jesus, whether you believe in Him or not, you cannot say that he stood for anything other than Mercy, Compassion, and Love. In fact, he was so faithful towards us that he was willing to die on a cross for in order that we might see his character.
So let us look to Jesus and not to men. Let us look to God and not people. This is revealing of our problem as human beings, that we always want to look to ourselves and at ourselves rather than God, who is Faithful and True. (Rom 1:25, Rev 19:11).
Paul’s point is this, Let us look to God to learn about God.
I am praying that if you do not know God, or if you don’t even care to, that a desire would be stirred up in you now as you read this. For, he is the only thing that can satisfy our souls. We can know him by and through Jesus. The Apostle John teaches us “that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true……” (1 John 5:20)
In the remaining 9 questions Paul will build on these truths. So, to summarize point 1: Let us look to God and not men to see God’s character.