The Risk Taker
How does one describe God? That’s a challenge because God is and will be more than the sum of all of our descriptions. In the Old Testament, God gave Israel his name: I AM. For the grammarians out there, that is an incomplete sentence. I am….what? We need a direct object! God chose the name “I am,” or “Yahweh” in Hebrew, because it reminds us forever that God will always be more than a description at the end of a sentence. There will always be more and more ways to say who God is. God is knowable, but only to the extent he allows himself to be known. He will always be more than our words will capture. There will always be an unknown part of or mystery to God. Otherwise, we’ll think we can fully understand God and therefore be able to control him. That’s not going to happen to the great I AM.
The God we know and is known does have many descriptions. God is good. God is holy. God is spirit. God is love. That last one is probably the best overall description of God. God is love. It is so simple. Or is it?
Actually, love is seldom simple. How do we define love? Is there such a thing as a universally accepted definition? What one sees as an act of love another sees with disdain. Love is seldom simple and almost never easy.
God is love. I’ll never fully grasp the depth of that love in God. I’m pretty sure that means he loves me and you. I also know that I’m not easy to love. I marvel not only that he loves me, but he loves some really mean and evil people.
When God decided to love me or you or anyone, he took a huge risk. Because while God is perfect, I’m not. God can and will love me perfectly. But he already knew, before I was born, that I would not love him with anything close to a perfect love. In fact, he created me with a free will, which also means I might never choose to love him in return. God is love and love is risky. God took a huge risk.
God is a risk taker. He put us in charge of his perfect creation. It didn’t take the human race long to figure out how to mess it up. That was a risky move by God. God created humans who were capable of having a relationship with him because he wanted to have such a relationship – one that was characterized by love. But that was risky because the perfect love would only be one-way. Any love returned would always be less than ideal if even at all. Risky! Humans have and will try to take advantage of God’s generous love.
God gave us free will. That was risky. Humans with free will are sure to bring God heartache. But any authentic relationship of love requires free will, otherwise the only other option is for us to be robots programed to have a relationship. Free will is risky so love is risky. It’s a part of God that we seldom reflect on.
The MOST risky thing God has done might well be sending Jesus to our world to die for our sins to reconcile us back to God. That cost him his very own and only dearly loved son…with no guarantee that we would get how much God loves us. What a risk! But without risk, there is seldom real gain. God took a risk to win back our hearts and our love. Not because he is needy, but because of our great need. What a risk! What a love!