Vol.XV No.XI Pg.3
January 1979

Where God Is Stranger

Dan S. Shipley

It is not surprising that the true God would be as a stranger to pagan nations in times past. Recall that to certain Athenians the apostle Paul was one who seemed to be a "setter forth of strange Gods". To them, his proclamation of God's word was as a strange thing to their ears (Acts 17: 18, 20).

What we would not expect, however, is that some 2,000 years later, God and His word could be as comparative strangers to many in our "Christian" nation and Bible-saturated society! Not that most do not hold certain illusions and concepts of God, for such are as numerous as the idols of ancient Athens — and just as false. But, God is as He is, and not as men may conceive Him to be. Many claim to believe on God; to believe that He "is" (Heb. 11:6), yet know little of His true nature. And, in the absence of such knowledge, it is conveniently easy to "whittle" out a concept with the imagination.

Thus, we find ourselves in the land of many "strange" gods. In our modern Athens we hear of a fiendish and cruel kind of god who robs us of our loved ones. We hear of a dead god; or an indulgent, grandfatherly-type who condones most any kind of conduct. Some speak of a god who honors good intentions and sincerity even above obedience to His own will and others speak of a god who would never allow even the wicked to be punished eternally. Some claim to serve a god who enables them to speak in tongues and heal the sick. Many claim allegiance to a god whose revelations are not confined to the Bible. It is not surprising that such groups would find the message of their god at variance with those given by other gods. Yes, strange gods are a way of life in our religious world. The fact that the imagined gods do not take the form of graven images doesn't really change anything. The man who conceives of a god who differs from the true God is himself little different from the pagan idolater of old. Paul saw the need for setting forth the nature of the true God. That remedy is no less needful in our times of sophisticated idolatry.

Soul saving faith begins with a knowledge of the true nature of God — a thing we often take for granted, especially in our teaching and preaching. If you think about it, practically everything relates to our view of God. That view, of course, must be determined by the Scriptures for all we can hope to know of the true God is revealed therein. Obviously, perverted concepts of God will persist among the uninformed and the misinformed. To them, incredible as it seems, the God of the Bible will remain a stranger and His word will seem a strange thing to their ears. Where God is stranger so is His love and man's imitation of it (1 Jn. 4:7-11); so is His goodness and the repentance it produces (Rom. 2:4). Where God is stranger so is His power and sovereignty. His right to rule, His authority, and His will avail little with those who serve illusions. Where God is stranger, so will His people be. The world will think it strange that His people run not with the — so will many in the religious world. Let's help them to know the Father.