God's Hard Edge

My friend Don called my attendtion to Johnny Cash's new release, God's Gonna Cut You Down. I love just about everything Cash has ever done. His music is amazing and most of the time his gonzo theology is on target. He did not miss with this one. The song deals with the lively truth that we all stand responsible before the Son of Man. We won't always be able to run unfettered away from God's holy will.

As I watched the video online I thought of a story recorded in I Kings 13. The young prophet disobeyed God and became dinner for God's lion. God cut him down. We spend our lives ignoring this hard edge of God. We domesticate the Lion of Judah in an effort to worship a neutered Garfield. Maybe we should heed the call of Orthodox writer Frederica Matthews-Green, We must stop thinking of God as infinitely indulgent. We must begin to grapple with the scary and exhilarating truth that he is infinitely holy, and that he wants the same for us.

What do you think?

8 comments:

Perry McCall said...

The challenge I have is presenting this message without being overly harsh. I have the same problem with depravity. Both of these doctrines are basicly rejected in the church and outside of the church. I struggle at preaching these serious doctrines for our times without being negative and mean spirited.

R. Sherman said...

One has to have a complete picture of God. His mercy and grace are only understandable if one acknowleges his judgment. As the previous commentor points out, this message sounds "harsh" and negative. Yet, an infinitely merciful, indulgent God is really no god at all.

Cheers.

P.S. I'm still pondering "Ely" in The Road.

jasonk said...

Excellent insights. Thanks for sharing.
The problem is that the people who need to hear that God is infinitely indulgent (He is, at least to His children, thankfully) tend to focus on the fearful truth of God's wrath. At the same time, those who are living lives of wanton sin need to realize that the time will come that God's indulgence will end, and they will find themselves in the hands of an angry God.
Last night I read Sandy Patty's biography. It is a must read when tempted to be too harsh in one's preaching. And it is good insight into the journey of a child of God through grace and forgiveness.

Matt Snowden said...

Excellent insights guys.

Perry - I read a bunch of process theology in college. It was a time in my life when I wanted a wise ole buddy type God. I have come to the conclusion that I wouldn't worship a God that couldn't take me in a bar fight.

r. sherman - Thanks for commenting. The good news of the gospel springs from the soil made fertile by our sinful refuse. We must be honest about the darkness if we are offering light. This is one of the reasons I like McCarthy.

jasonk,
You are correct my friend. Wisecracking Pharisees like me need the message of God's lion far more than most. I still preach a ragamuffin gospel. My wife, mother, and grandmother just saw Sandy Patty at MSU-Meridian (Lovett, Guy Clark and Joe Ely are playing there in Feb.) She is a good reminder of the things you mention. She also has an amazing set of pipes.

Mark Rotramel said...

Matt,
I'm reminded of what Joel Gregory said to us in class last Fall:

"Everybody loves it when the priest is shuffling showbread, but when Amos shows up on the temple steps..." it's a different story!

I believe that the difficult messages of the hard edge must be preached if we're to give the "whole counsel of God". Furthermore, I think they can be preached without a mean spirit. I just have to remember that the people to whom we speak know whether we love them or not. That's a crucial element. Incarnational ministry sets up preaching the tough stuff, I think.

Matt Snowden said...

Mark,

I'm really glad to hear from you. Good word. I think Dr. Gregory sure can turn a phrase. I've been praying for you, Steve and the rest. Hang in there. Eat some real Mexican for me!

Mark Rotramel said...

Hey, Matt. I got so used to seeing you guys that I kinda miss being around you all (er, ya'll). Studies are going well (finished my learning events & non-concentration reading).

And, as to Mexican - I'll have an enchilada in your honor, tonight!

How's the baby preparation stuff? I bet Molly Katherine is blowing your mind right about now, eh? 1st Christmas' are incredible. Enjoy, buddy.

Matt Snowden said...

The baby prep is going well. Molly Katherine is amazing. I appreciate the ya'll. I envy the food.

Have you turned in reports for all the reading? I finished all the learning events and I'm working steady on the reading. You encourage me.

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