Warm Fuzzy God?
I charge you in the presence of God . . . who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. 1 Timothy 6:13-16
In practicing addiction medicine, it’s sometimes easy to become accustomed to addictive behavior. Spending a significant amount of time in jail and treatment means that I’m surrounded by those for whom the life of addiction is unfortunately normal. I’m supposed to be nonjudgmental, but that doesn’t mean I don’t address self-destructive behavior as self-destructive. The point of my job is still to try and help those struggling to find change, recovery, and a new life. It’s easy though, to become so accustomed to the disaster that I simply accept it as normal.
There are times though, that I must remind myself and those I’m working with, that their addictive, self-destructive behavior isn’t normal or healthy. I don’t need to be mean about it, but sometimes, I must make it clear that a life of using drugs isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. There is a better life and radical, painful change may be necessary to get there. In working with those who’re struggling, a kind, loving face is often necessary, but sometimes a stern face is also appropriate.
Stern is the tone I hear when I read today’s passage. In it, Paul told Timothy to flee evil and pursue a life of faith and godliness. I charge you in the presence of God. He went on to describe God, not as a warm fuzzy grandfather, but as a terrifying king, as bright as the sun, whom we cannot even look upon. Paul said that following God isn’t something we might want to get around to someday when we have time. God is our king and it’s our life duty to follow his will.
Sometimes we need this stern reminder. We rightly believe that God is merciful and gracious. There is always forgiveness for our failures. Sometimes though, it’s easy to become so accustomed to failure that we just accept it as normal. I guess I’ll always be this way. I’ll always struggle. It may be normal to experiences struggles, but we’re not meant to live enslaved to them. God is also a God of truth and justice, and he asks that we respond to him appropriately. He made us for a purpose and in response to his love and forgiveness, we are meant to follow his will. This isn’t optional for the Christian. If we call ourselves Christians, it’s not normal for us to continually live in failure. Daily, it’s our job to abandon self to follow our God and king.