Don’t make the mistake of focusing on just one aspect of God’s nature

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From “How to become a Christian”: Chapter 3 – God’s character – who He is and what He is like

Many of us make the same mistake with God. We tend to think of him solely in terms of one favourite aspect. Usually people like to dwell upon God’s love, or His mercy, or his forgiveness. Of course all of that is true. But it is even more misleading than in Churchill’s case if we focus only on one aspect of God. We need to see Him in the round, in every possible aspect and appreciate every feature. Then we will have a much truer picture of Him. Like God, Churchill related to different people in different ways.  When he was dealing with cabinet ministers and generals he could be stern and rigorous. Yet, if he was dealing with ordinary humble people then he would reveal a much softer and gentler side of his nature. For example, Churchill was very easily moved to tears. 

On one occasion he was out inspecting bomb damage during the ‘blitz’. He saw some houses, newly destroyed, and their occupants standing in the road, homeless. As he stood looking at the scene he began to weep. The public standing nearby were surprised, having heard his defiant and resolute speeches on the radio. His display of emotion and tenderness did not fit their image of him.  Yet, there was no contradiction in any of that, because he was all of those things. During World War One Churchill fought for a time at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. One night he caught a man who had fallen asleep on sentry duty. He could have had him shot for that, but he had mercy on him and spared the soldier’s life, because he felt pity for him.  Yet, this is the same man who later ordered the daily bombing of German cities.

On another occasion Churchill was having a meeting at 10 Downing Street involving various ministers including the Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden. His grandson aged 5 was visiting at the time and Churchill allowed him into the room. It was a small group meeting in a sitting room. His grandson hid behind an armchair and rolled up some pieces of paper and threw them at Churchill’s head.  He knew what was happening, but pretended that he thought it was the Foreign Secretary doing it.  He began to rebuke Sir Anthony Eden saying “Foreign Secretary, will you stop throwing those pieces of paper!”  This delighted his grandson who then threw more pieces of paper, resulting in more protests to the Foreign Secretary, to the amusement of all those present.  Yet, this was the same man who spoke in the gravest and most serious tone about life and death issues for national defence.

Therefore we see that even whilst operating as Prime Minister, there were intimate aspects of Churchill’s character that he displayed to those who knew him.  But you could not approach him on your first meeting with him in the same way his grandson did, or as his staff did, who knew him well.  You could not be familiar or jocular with Churchill on your first day at work and hope to get away with it. You first had to approach him in his capacity as Prime Minister and start to get to know him.  Then you could gradually discover all of the many other aspects of his character. 

It is rather like that with God. He is holy and righteous. He hates sin. He will be our judge one day. Most people will be condemned by Him and sent to the Lake of Fire, because that is how seriously He views sin. Therefore when we approach God for the first time it must be with reverence and respect. There must also be sorrow and repentance for our many sins against Him and other people. We can’t approach Him in a casual or presumptuous manner. Neither can we be familiar with God, or take liberties.  Yet, for those who do know Him, and have repented they can start, from that point onwards, to get to know Him in a much wider way. They can learn about the many other aspects of God’s character and personality, in addition to His holiness and awesome power.

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