In the early days of my walk with God, I struggled with quite a few parts of the Bible. But I wrestled most often with the directives to women. Some offended me (Eph. 5:22-24), some hurt me (Lev. 15:19-30), and some made me wince (Mt. 15:21-28). The Lord has since settled my heart on all of these things, one way or another, but all of those dealings included a truth that was exposed in my heart: I was ashamed of Him for these scriptures.
It’s a big deal to be ashamed of God.
For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.
Mark 8:38 NKJV
That’s one game of tit-for-tat that it isn’t wise to play! Yet I was playing it. I knew very well how the world viewed those verses, and I was loath to have people disdain me as well. I cared more about the opinions of total strangers than I did about God’s, and He called me on it.
I began to see that I was trying to “spin” God so that He would be palatable to the world – and to me. I looked for a box that I could put Him in so that He would be explainable and presentable. I even found quite a few people out there hard at work on this very thing, and they appeared to be making real strides. I met a God who was domesticated and passive and not at all the way the Bible made Him seem. I should have been happy, but I wasn’t. It was like shaking hands with an abomination.
My desire to win the approval of man, woman, and child corresponded with the shame I felt about God in certain areas. Every so often, I would wince and think, “God, You can’t say that to people!” And sometimes I’d get mad and say, “Don’t You care what people think about You?! You look just terrible here!” But the truth is that I care what people think. I care about looking terrible.
The Holy Spirit has busted quite a few boxes that I built to corral the wild strangeness of God—and He’ll bust quite a few more before my life is over, I’m guessing. Because not all surprises are fun. Sometimes God shocks me and I know that that particular revelation is going to cost me. Maybe my reputation is on the line, or a cherished friendship, or the respect of my family. And the temptation is to save my life and avoid the shame by boxing God up nice and tight. “God would NEVER ask that of me/be so harsh/be so kind/say such a thing!” ‘Never’ is a nice, tight box, isn’t it?
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
Isaiah 55:8 NKJV
God has dealt with my love of the world faithfully and steadily, and I trust Him to continue that work until I cease to draw breath. I wince less and less as days go by, so I know that He’s breaking my earthly ties and making me ever more completely His.