I was talking with one of my uncles some months ago and he was lamenting the lack of good Christian books out there, pointing out that the only good 'Christian' books are the ones that lead you to read the Bible itself instead of more books about the Bible. God with Us: Exploring God's Personal Interactions with His People Throughout the Bible by Glenn R. Kreider is one such book. I don't believe that I had heard of this book before, or at least if I had it didn't catch my attention at the time. A friend gave it to me and I ended up being very pleased with it.
In the book, Kreider focuses upon the humility of God. He goes through the different periods of Biblical history pointing out many instances of God's graciousness towards mankind. I'll list some particular snippets that I found fascinating:
First, in his section on Abraham Kreider points out that God could have responded in anger for Abraham's asking how he would know that he will gain possession of the land (instead of just accepting that it would happen), but He didn't, "God's response is compassionate, gracious and kind. He cuts a covenant with Abram.…..The covenant does not make the promises of God more secure, but it does give Abram something he knows and understands." God didn't have to make a covenant at all, but He graciously did so. And despite Abraham's flaws, God condescends to be known as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (who also were very flawed).
Later on, in His call to Moses God condescends to answer Moses' objections to being chosen to lead his people out of Egypt, and has already provided a helper for Moses in the person of Aaron - This made me realize too that God could have made Aaron the leader of His people. But even though Moses objected so much, God graciously still used Moses.
And then of course, the amazing condescension of God to send His Son to earth as a human being….and as an infant, not an adult. Kreider says that for a while he had a hard time with the account given by Luke of when Jesus was 12 years old and deliberately stays behind in Jerusalem when His parents leave for home - in particular, Mary's apparently frustrated response towards Him, "My Son, Why have you treated us like this?..." How could she dare do that seeing that she had been told beforehand that Jesus was "the Son of God"? And then he explains that his conclusion, " "Anyone who was in the presence of God in the flesh would recognize his deity, I thought. I Now believe that this story reveals to us that Jesus' deity was well concealed. Apparently, the difference between Jesus and her other children was not as obvious to Mary as I had thought. Jesus never sinned, never rebelled against her; he never behaved in a depraved way." He goes on to explain that, in a way, Jesus was, as it were, 'immature'(not meaning to indicate that Christ's action in staying behind was immature). In other words, He still grew in wisdom, as that chapter points out, though in the process of growing in wisdom/'maturing' He never sinned. And so Mary apparently had trouble perceiving His divinity because of this, despite having seen His perfect goodness. I thought that was an interesting point.
I also loved the concept that God has condescended to have His Son be in human form forever, "he humbles himself by adding to his complete deity complete humanity, not temporarily but permanently." And not only this, but that Christ will be with His people forever on the new earth, "The hope of redeemed humanity is not heaven but earth. Heaven is a temporary home until the day of resurrection, when heaven will come down to earth and the God of heaven will make the earth his home (Rev. 21:3). When the work of redemption is completed, the triune God will condescend to dwell eternally on this planet."
All in all I thought that it was quite thought provoking. There were some things (as in any book other than the Bible) that bothered me a bit: such as Kreider's stating that, ""Although sin and rebellion will continue, God promises never to respond as harshly as he did in the flood." - I guess that he doesn't think that the future judgments to come upon the earth are not that bad? That confused me - especially as he says that he is premillennial. And then he says that "Since the Scriptures testify about Jesus, any reading that fails to hear Jesus, any interpretation that fails to elevate Jesus, and any bible study that fails to focus on Jesus is incorrect and worthy of judgment." But what if certain passages elevate God the Father? What if they focus upon Him and not upon Christ…or what if they focus upon the Trinity as a whole? * Sigh*…..
But I still liked the book. Kreider does a good job of pointing out this other attribute of God, humility, that we ought to emulate, and that we will emulate because we have God- The Holy Spirit living inside of us. It makes you want to take another look at the Bible with, not necessarily a new perspective, but with a heightened desire to notice God's condescension and humility towards humanity that is revealed therein.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars *****