We've all said it at one time or another...Just when you think you're really getting to know someone pretty well, they up and go and do something that really surprises you. You know the story; your overly cautious friend takes a real leap of faith in something they would have previously labeled as "reckless", your overly reckless friend make a cautious and wise decision, the friend who's always mooching off you and their other friends buys you lunch (even if it was with your money)...One way or another, some personality that you felt you had a pretty good grasp of steps out of the box that you had imagined for them. Sometimes it really makes you take a step back and wonder; "What else was I wrong about?".
Well, why is it then that so many of us are so irrevocably convinced of our own understanding of God?!
"But I pray and read my bible every day", I can hear you saying. Yeah, OK, that's wonderful. But there is a passage in that same bible that tells us;
"Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" Matthew 7:22-23 NIV
Now, this brings up a lot of other topics; (people performing miracles after most people believe miracles to have been removed, etc.) but staying on topic, these are people who clearly believed that they were followers of God. If these people were actively doing the things they say they were (and the account does not say otherwise), and yet were not known by Jesus Christ, how much more possible could it be that we, in our largely "middle of the road" (see; lukewarm) Christianity, also do not know God as well as we had once supposed?
How righteous and holy are you? How righteous and holy am I? The bible clearly tells us;
"Be holy, because I am holy." I Peter 1:16, Lev. 11:44,45; 19:2; 20:7 NIV
I don't believe for a second that God was kidding, or that He somehow didn't mean what He said...Particularly since - according to my concordance - He felt the need to repeat Himself four times! Of course we cannot live a holy and righteous life by our own strength, but God clearly desires that of us, and what He commands, He also empowers us to do. Something else about God which we may not have clearly understood before.
So, not being the holy people that God desires to empower us to be, why is it we're so certain that we have such a good grasp on His intentions? Even the Israelites were expecting the Messiah to ride in on a white horse and overthrow the Roman Empire, not the baby in a manger which they were given. They had no idea how to respond to Him, so foreign was He to their sense of society and rules, to the point where the same people singing "Hosanna!" as He rode into town were only a week later calling out for the Roman officials over them to crucify Him.
Maybe it's possible we've had God wrong all along. Those of us who see Him as a God of wrath, those of us who have some all-tolerating "hippie" Jesus in mind, those who only see Him as just a stepping stone to heaven (or fire insurance from hell), or just an acquaintance...
No, I believe God is a loving God, but He is a just God. As easily as He has forgiven, He will also one day judge. In the same way as He administers the grace necessary to live that holy and righteous life He expects of us, He will pour out justice on those who do not obey.
The Truth is out there...The Truth is somewhere in-between our overly vengeful and overly tolerant views of God.
The Truth is a man, and His Name is Jesus.