When Islamic terrorists ran through the streets of Paris committing inhuman and heinous acts to their fellow man, they were shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’: God is great.
Every time there’s an act of terror like Friday 13th, it seems to happen; an attribution or dedication to the God who is great: greater than worldly affairs, greater than the enemy or distress, greater than the preservation or consideration of life.
Every time I hear that phrase, I grieve.
What sort of God incites its adherents to such inhumanity? Answer: One who is great.
What sort of God encourages and promotes systemic rape of women and children, seemingly requiring it as a measure of allegiance? Answer: One who is great.
When greatness is the dominant, overwhelming and defining attribute of the that God in whom you put your trust, asserting that greatness can take any form you choose.
Greatness is superiority, dominance, and power—the more you wield those, regardless of how perverted your means, the greater your statement of greatness. Greatness demands and necessitates physical aggression as well, for how else do you assert your greatness in the physical than by threatening the physical?
I serve a God, who is great.
Great is the Lord and mighty in power; Psalm 147 says, His understanding has no limits. Yes, He is great and greater than earthly things. Greater than all gods. Far above all gods, Psalm 135 says. Over all, through all, and in all, Paul writes to the Ephesians.
My God is great. But, decisively, He is good.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, his love endures forever. Want to know how good? Look at Jesus. The measure of God’s goodness is in the person and work of His only Son, Jesus.
God’s power does not work independently of his goodness, and it does not require discriminated reinforcement. God is good, all the time. God has loved everyone, for all time. He has loved the world: everyone, for all time. Every image bearer of his divine DNA. The goodness in His greatness was so complete that he gave up his only Son to redeem each one of us. Comfy westerners, scared francophiles, Islamic terrorists alike.
Jesus’ act of redemption was through his Son to the world, and it was rooted in His goodness to us.
In the work of the cross, God re-announces all over again: “I am great. Greater than sin, greater than death, greater than principalities and powers. And at the very same time he says: ‘I am good.’ My greatness is reserved for showing my goodness because I love you, and want you to enjoy my goodness.
Here’s the example. Want to be great? Be the servant of all. Lay down you life in serving others. Don’t lay down your life with an AK-47 proclaiming his greatness then taking your own life. No, lay down your life with love. Let love be the weapon of your war.
God says greatness is expressed in love and mercy, humility and grace. Jesus had power over all things but made himself nothing and humbled himself to death on the cross from a place of obedience and for the joy of His Father. Not out of disembodied allegiance to greatness, but integrated with love, humility and goodness.
I want to bow down before God. He is worthy of all my praise because he is absolutely great and absolutely good.
Do you want to know the God I’m talking about when I say God is great? Look to Jesus. The exact imprint of God’s nature.
Look to Jesus; who didn’t consider equality with God as something to be grasped or attained or battled or conquered, but made himself nothing for you and me. Then read Philippians 2 and see how God the Father looks upon that kind of humbled greatness.