You may remember the old television show M*A*S*H, the show about a group of doctors during the Korean War. One of my favorite episodes involves a bomb that falls into the camp and fails to detonate. As luck would have it, the bomb is an American bomb. The doctors take it on themselves to defuse the bomb, following instructions from a manual. Two doctors work on the bomb while their colonel reads the instructions from a safe distance. At one point the colonel reads, “Carefully cut the wires leading to the clockwork fuse at the head,” and the doctors do as instructed. The colonel continues reading: “But first remove the fuse,” and the doctors look at one another in shock, realizing that they have failed in their efforts to carefully follow the instructions. They quickly verify that the bomb has indeed been activated (don’t worry; it turned out to be a propaganda bomb and merely rained pamphlets on the compound).
Some people see God that way, don’t they? You can be trying to follow instructions, meticulously observing each detail, but you miss one item and KABOOM! Say the wrong words, make the wrong gesture, or fail to notice one small command and your salvation blows up in your face.
These people see God as a ticking bomb and the Scriptures are our manual for defusing that bomb. The Bible becomes “God’s little rule book” whose only purpose is to keep us from being blown up.
Is that our God? Is He a God who spends His time looking for reasons to punish or is He a God who looks for chances to save?
The overwhelming testimony of Scripture is that God is a gracious, forgiving God, slow to anger and quick to forgive (Exodus 34:6-7). He is a holy God in whose presence sin cannot enter. He is a just God, who will punish evil. But His overwhelming desire is that men be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).
We should respect God’s holiness, but we should also trust in His love, His mercy and His grace. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)