Long ago an English writer announced that our God was too small — and he then listed the ways that Christians generally have bad ideas about God.
James Bryan Smith, in The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love With the God Jesus Knows (The Apprentice Series) is arguing something like this when he suggests we take a deeper look at our “false narratives” that are shaping our lives.
God is good.
Smith tells a story when his faith in God as good was shaken, and it had to do with their daughter who, 8 months in the womb, was discovered with a rare disease that would claim her life 2 years later. A pastor met with Smith and asked this question: “Who sinned… you or your wife?” [Groans deleted.]
Smith proposes that what shapes that kind of question is a narrative of “the angry God.” “God is an angry judge. If you do well, you will be blessed; if you sin, you will be punished” (40).
How has the Angry-God-Narrative shaped your life? What have you done to reshape the Angry-God-Narrative?
Smith thinks this is the most prevalent narrative about God among Christians today. It is a constant “tit for a tat” God.
Jesus’ narrative, Smith proposes, is a different one. God is good; the question is not “who sinned?” as in John 9:2-3 (“who sinned, Rabbi, … that this man was born blind”) but how can God be glorified. Jesus heals the man to show the grace of God at work. Jesus abolished the idea that we get what we deserve. The tit-for-a-tat God is a means of control — of our world and our life. It is a controlling narrative, however, that doesn’t work.
Someday we will see justice and someday we will understand justice. (He interacts here with Augustine.)
We can also take delight and comfort in that Jesus, too, experienced suffering. He believes for us when we struggle.
God is good. All the time.
How is the God-is-Good Narrative re-shaping your world?
After each chp Smith has a section on spiritual formation: this one is on silence and listening to creation itself.