Is God Just Like Us?

Who is God to you? Does God share the attributes of you and me? Or has He done that which no man could ever do?

“Salvation is conditional.”

The above is what I heard from the pulpit every week. If one does not believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ he or she cannot spend eternity in glorious, liberated fellowship with Him. But is not such an idea inherently human? Humanity commonly disowns one another, strips each other of identity and purpose, and harms itself at the table of condition. If you cannot remain faithful, let us divorce. If you cannot respect the law of the land, may you be cast out. If you cannot believe in me, what right have you to my embrace?

These conditions keep society together. Without them, chaos would ensue and the name of freedom would be tarnished by the gruelling hand of despair. Conditions are necessary in a world that insists upon the self and its urge to be gratified. But if conditions are the boundaries of a world in turmoil, why do we contend that God heeds those same limits? Is God also bound to a world of strife and must therefore separate the wheat from the chaff at His table of fellowship?

The love of God is a mystery to us because it cannot be understood from our perspective on this broken earth. Which of us would choose to die innocently at the hand of our accusers to save them from an everlasting death they so justly deserved? Which of us would die for another “while they were still sinners” (Romans 5:8), that is, without repentance in their hearts? Which of us, while dying at their hand, would plead for their pardon when there was no contrition in them? Which of us, after having endured death, even death on a cross, would declare those same unrepentant, wicked people “justified” (Romans 5:9) (i.e. unconditionally free from being identified by their sin) and “saved from indignation”? Which of us would “conciliate” to ourselves (Romans 5:10) our enemies who not only disbelieved our words but spat in our faces? Which of us would look at the wicked and declare that no matter what has been done, grace “superabounds” (Romans 5:15) even that?

Which of us can stand and genuinely say that grace is unconditional? You cannot. I cannot. In our eyes, grace must be deserved. It must be based on, or at the very least result in, obedience to the law. If grace does not produce respect for the law then grace must run out. If grace is not accepted, then tradition dictates that they cannot be allowed to taste its beautiful fruit. That is the grace of you and me.

But it is not the grace of God. The grace of God is neither dependent nor reliant on conditions for there is no rule above Him. The grace of God does not mirror ours. If it did, then God is merely one of us.

Does what you believe about grace, salvation, and love reflect the Lord who died in our stead? Do you believe you are like God or is God just like you?