Wineskins Archive

January 6, 2014

God’s Dirty Hands (Nov – Dec 1993)

Filed under: — @ 7:15 pm and

by Rubel Shelly
November – December, 1993

16The gods of Babylon, Greece, and Rome were remote from Planet Earth, detached from humanity, and generally unmoved by the human condition. More than that, these “gods” were seen as being reduced and defiled by contact with matter.

Their presence was most often sensed in the context of major disasters. Then their devotee’s primary role was to placate and pacify them with ritual and ceremony. If one of them ever appeared in human form, he was a Superman-type hero who was immune to mortal harm.

Yahweh has entered human experience to share our limitations and struggles in the theophany to Abram and Sarai, he ate what she cooked (Genesis 18:1ff). His holiness did not preclude his involvement with us. Neither was it compromised by his contact with Earth.

Then the Word “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” as Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:14). He was not an invulnerable Superman. To the contrary, his heart could break for hurting and outcast persons. He flinched and bled under the lash. He died on a Roman cross.

Our God is not remote, detached, and unmoved. “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity ….” (Hebrews 2:14). “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). In Jesus, we do not have a Savior “who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are” (Hebrews 4:15).

The only perfect person in history so identified himself with our imperfections that he drew to himself (and made comfortable!) some of the most unsavory characters you can imagine. There was a woman who had gone through five divorces and was living with a sixth man when Jesus met her. There were lepers and publicans, political radicals and prostitutes.

Do we have a message about God to preach to the world? Do we have a message from God to share? And are we pained that we are so ineffective in communicating it so as to win converts to our Lord? Do we lament that people don’t come to us in the numbers or with the openness they showed to him?

Maybe we have served the true God with the spirit of the false gods. Perhaps we have been remote, detached, and unmoved. Possibly we are perceived as being more interested in our institution than in broken peoples’ pain.

Since our God has dirty hands, we can neither be unconcerned about the human condition nor uninvolved with life’s most defiled victims. Wineskins Magazine

Rubel Shelly

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