This is a personal conviction I have held for a couple of decades: “If a person’s life is to be changed, his/her view of God must be changed.” Conversion is about a dramatic shift in the focus of the core of one’s being. Conversion is NOT about a few minor changes in surface considerations. Too often we have transformed the concept of conversion to cosmetic changes affecting superficial appearances while being unconcerned that the “convert” doggedly clings to a godless focus in his or her life. Often he or she has not seen God for Who He is. From “non-convert” to “convert,” his or her view of God remains unchanged. He or she just made the necessary superficial changes to acquire some insurance against catastrophe after death.

Consider your view of God. Compare what you think God is like with some of the declarations of scripture.

One time Moses asked God to show Himself to him. God explained Moses’ request was impossible because if human Moses looked upon the holy God, he would die. God did allow Moses to view His glory. In that episode, God gave this self-description: Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations" (Exodus 34:6, 7).

Near the end of his life, Moses made this statement to Israel: "For the Lord your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them" (Deuteronomy 4:31).

Centuries later Nehemiah encouraged a renewal of faith in God among returning Israelites. Nehemiah 9 is an “honesty session” that assumes human responsibility and declares God’s greatness. As a part of the renewal, the people confessed their sins and acknowledged the iniquities of their ancestors. In speaking of their ancestors and their God, Nehemiah 9:17 states, "They refused to listen, and did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them; so they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness; and You did not forsake them."

Paraphrased: "Our ancestors who left Egypt forgot what You did for them. In their stubbornness and arrogance, they thought they could solve their discontentment by returning. They were utter spiritual failures. In Your compassion and graciousness, You forgave. You were slow to anger and filled with mercy. They failed You, but You refused to forsake them."

Interestingly, in our view of God we stress His vengeful, exacting nature when He who is “slow to anger” was angered. We see His vengeance. In the same instances they saw His mercy and forgiveness. Who sees God the most accurately?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 3 November 2005

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