From “How to become a Christian”: Chapter 3 – God’s character – who He is and what He is like
God loves you and wants an intimate and personal relationship with you. But before you can have that you must first respect Him for what He really is and honour Him as the Lord, King and Judge of the universe. In the Western world today, the holiness and severity of God are not emphasised. They are not even mentioned at all in many churches. But they need to be, because if we want to get to know God we must begin by respecting and fearing Him. It won’t work properly any other way.
It is like meeting a very important man for the first time. Imagine you went to work for Winston Churchill, the war-time Prime Minister, and were about to meet him on your first day at work. You would not approach him with familiarity or address him on first name terms at that stage. There would be a formality to the relationship to begin with. Your main feelings would be respect, and also some fear.
You would, in the beginning, have to relate to him in his capacity as Prime Minister and as your boss, not as a friend. There is no other way for it to happen. However, as time passes, you would begin to form a personal relationship and get to really know him in a more rounded sense, as he truly is. You would see other aspects of his personality and find out about other areas of his life, besides being Prime Minister. The people who worked for Churchill always began by fearing him, but ended up devoted to him.
Maintain a balanced view of God
The example of Winston Churchill is also appropriate to illustrate the fact that God is multi-faceted and has many different aspects to His character. Although Churchill was a hugely powerful man, feared by many, making decisions that affected the whole world, he was also a merciful, kind, literary, artistic, generous, amusing and playful person. He loved to make jokes and play tricks on those he knew and worked with. He was loved and admired as well as feared and respected. If you saw Churchill as one-dimensional you would be badly misunderstanding Him. That is even more true of God. If you wanted to, you could write books about Churchill, each one of which could focus on just one aspect of his life, his interests and his achievements. He lived to be 90 and in that time he was all of the following things, and much more besides:
He was a son, schoolboy, soldier, journalist, prisoner of war, politician, husband, father, Trade Secretary, Home Secretary, First Lord of the Admiralty, a soldier again, unemployed, Colonial Secretary, Chancellor of the Exchequer, a back bench MP, a voice crying in the wilderness, then at the Admiralty again, then Prime Minister in war time, then Leader of the Opposition, then Prime Minister in peace time, then a back bench MP again. During all of that time he was also a writer, a historian, a pilot, a wit, a traveller, a painter, a bricklayer, and a keeper of cats, fish and pigs!
So, if you focused, on just one or other of those roles or aspects of his life, then whatever you wrote would be true up to a point but it wouldn’t be the whole truth. For example, if you were to say “Churchill was an artist” it would be a true statement. However, it would be very far from being the whole truth. Therefore, to say it as if it was the whole truth would be seriously misleading.
People have actually written books solely on what he achieved as an artist, examining the many watercolours he painted. There’s nothing wrong with that. Yet it would obviously be very wrong to think of him only as an artist. It would be equally invalid to think of him only as a politician or only as a writer or only as a soldier or only as a husband/father/grandfather etc.