There is a nursery rhyme that goes: “Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of. Slugs and snails and puppy dogs’ tails, that’s what little boys are made of.” My oldest daughter just turned three – believe me when I say that little girls are NOT made of “everything nice.” But besides the fact that it’s untrue, what most alarms me about this nursery rhyme is the way it seems to guide what most Christians believe about God.
Try something: take out the words “little girls” and put “God” in their place. Now take out the words “little boys” and put “Satan” in their place. Here’s what you end up with: “Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what God is made of. Slugs and snails and puppy dogs’ tails, that’s what Satan is made of.” Do you see what we’ve done? By adapting this nursery rhyme, we’ve created a concise summary of most peoples’ theology.
How does this happen? I don’t think Christians hear this nursery rhyme and say, “I’m intentionally deciding to let this children’s poem control what I believe about God.” Here’s how it happens: as you read the Bible, you discover that God has many attributes. Some of them are nice while others are…well, not so nice. It’s tempting to focus on the attributes you like and ignore the ones you don’t like. So Christians bookmark the passages that talk about His love, grace, patience, or goodness, and conveniently forget the passages that talk about His hatred, wrath, vengeance, or justice.
When you were a kid, did you ever play on a teeter totter? A teeter totter is a beam with a fulcrum underneath and seats on each end. Kids sit on the seats and take turns pushing off the ground. Obviously, it works best and is the most fun when the kids are the same weight. Who did nobody ever want to play with on the teeter totter? That’s right – the fat kid. All seesawing stops when the fat kid gets on. You’re stuck up in the air until he gets off, then WHAM! You crash painfully down to the ground.
Playing favorites with God’s qualities is like seesawing with the fat kid. You must give equal weight to all of His attributes when deciding what you believe about Him. If you don’t, your theology will be thrown off balance. And there will be a crash. You’ll read something in the Bible or endure a painful experience that contradicts your beliefs. You’ll wonder how He can allow you to face such a situation. You might even wonder if He exists in the first place!
So we realize that the key to theology is balance. If we want our beliefs about God to be accurate, we must accept everything the Bible tells us about Him. He has many attributes – some are nice, some aren’t so nice. He doesn’t let us pick and choose our favorites and make Him into whoever we want Him to be. Instead, He expects us to love and worship Him for who He’s revealed Himself to be. You can’t change God. You can’t sugarcoat Him. All you can do is love and worship Him for who He actually is.
Question for Comments:
Is it easy or difficult for you to balance God’s attributes? Do any of His attributes frustrate or confuse you?