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Wednesday, 14 September 2011

a self-centred God?

Re-reading the New Testament (it is a bit of an avoidance tactic, as having reached Lamentations in the OT I need a break from the doom and gloom..). Anyway I came across this in 2 Timothy. Must have read this 100 times but it just stood out today...

Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.
                     
2 Timothy 2:11-13


I just love this, as a statemen, .but there is one thing that made me think, which is where is says 'if we disown him, he will disown us...' That seems rather final doesn't it? And yet in the next line it says if we are faithless, he will remain faithful because he cannot disown himself.

So what is the distinction between disowning and being unfaithful here? because at first glance one would think it means the same thing and yet apparently not. Disowning Christ seems here to be a cardinal sin and yet being faithless is not. My understanding is the second part  - that Christ will never leave us, that He lives within us, and therefore cannot leave us because He cannot leave himself. That makes sense. But then the line above implies that if we do something so terrible as to 'disown' him, He will leave us.

So what does 'disowning' constitute? The thesaurus says that to disown is to:  to deny any connection with; refuse to acknowledge. I'd love to know the original translation here, to know what is actually meant by this phrase. It seems to me that it is about ones will. Not having faith may not be a willful act, it may be that one has never come to faith, or it may have come about that one has lost faith due to a specific event, therefore it is not a willful decision. But if one actively chooses to turn away from God, to deny His existence then he's off? I am not sure if I like that. Surely we profess a God that loves all his people, no matter what, a God that accepts us as we are, a God that forgives all our sins. We use imagery to display this, such as the well know 'footprints' poem. The implication being that He is always there even when we do not ackowledge Him, or when we ignore Him. So I always envisage Him as being there in the background, just waiting for us to turn to Him, waiting for us to open that door of curiosity. I don't picture a God that just disappears until that door opens, goes off to watch over someone else because this one is not acknowledging Him. That just seems rather self-centred and I don't see God as self-centred. So what did Paul mean here?

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