This post is a part of the Sovereignty of God Blog Series going on throughout the months of July and August. You can read about the series and see a schedule of the posts here. You can subscribe to all the posts here.
Jonathan is the Managing Director of Thrive Ministries, a non-profit ministry focusing on creating missional discipleship communities and spiritual formation. He blogs at Missio Dei and is very consistent at it too. He lives in Folsom, CA with his wife and three kids. What I love about Jonathan is that he thinks in a way I don’t (in a good way), and he is definitely one of the few bloggers who I can learn from even though he is a lot smarter than me.
My God Is Bigger Than Your God
What if winning means losing?
When I was young I used to play with the other kids in the neighborhood. Eventually someone would push someone for something. Chests would stick out and a shouting match would ensue. And someone would inevitably say, “My dad is bigger than your dad,” as though our dads were really going to show up and fight. We thought so, or at least we pretended we thought so. Looked good for the rep.
And when I look back on those moments I wonder how I could I reduce my father to a tool to win an argument. It did nothing but produce fear in the eyes of the other. By increasing my father’s stature, I had in my defense actually reduced my father stature in the eyes of the other. Because now, the other saw my father as someone who wanted to beat his father up.
Sadly, we do the same with God. In the desire to win an argument about God we throw out the sovereignty of God as some ultimate trump card. God becomes a tool for an end purpose. But in that desire to win, we often end up doing exactly the opposite of what is intended. We place God on our side and exclude the other. In trying to increase God in the eyes of the other, we inadvertently reduce him in the process.
This is what I love about the cross. When it came time to truly retaliate, God lifted his arms and said, “Go ahead. Hit me.” Just when God could have really beaten everyone up, he lets us beat him up. It reminds us that winning in the kingdom of God is actually backwards. Winning was about who loves the most, not who wins the argument.
It’s like God is saying, “If you really want to win the argument, you have to lose it all.” Truly winning was found in love, in being Jesus to the other, and lifting up the other, including the other, not simply in trumping the other. In the end it didn’t matter what we said we believed UNLESS we revealed that we believed it through love.
Love meant building a bridge of relationship not a wall of protection. It meant seeing God in the other. In losing we actually won. And in revealing love we became the image of God to the other. We lost the argument but gained our own humanity in the process.