When God fights back

Have you ever noticed how often Jesus is in combative mode throughout the Gospels? This has struck me as I’ve read through Matthew this week. He is often hotly defending his message, sprinting into conversations in swift idea attack (that usually ended in a checkmate in his favor, especially regarding the pharisees), pricked to fervent explanation or rebuke by the comments of the people around Him. This used to worry me. I felt a little insecure about loving such a riled-up God. It seemed pretty likely he’d be on my case before long, seeing as I am often in the ranks of those who struggle with their faith. The story of Jacob wrestling with God has always intrigued me, but I have always assumed God sort of held Jacob like a father might hold a furious toddler while he fought. The thought that God, in Jesus, might occasionally fight back is, well, a bit terrifying.

And yet, thrilling too. Because it just means he is in deadly earnest, he will provoke and stir and kindle searing questions to burn us until we finally, finally wake up to the reality of the Kingdom. I am ingesting the Kingdom into myself in a way I never have before- glimpsing the second by second possibility of what the Holy Spirit is willing to be and bring in my life as I follow Christ. There is a voice in my head of late that is this refrain of “look, see, remember, awake, and know, know, know the reality of God.” I have been a Christian most of my life, but this grace I have claimed is a flaming, life-altering redemption that is pushing me into a new place of response, recognition really, of what it really is I have believed. Throughout the Gospels, I begin to see Jesus as desperate, almost frantic, to get his wayward people to taste, to see, to respond to his salvation.

What is it in us all that is so resistant to him? I see more and more how lethargic, legalistic, lazy, staid, suspicious the world, and the human heart, are when it comes to the unfettered possibility inherent in Jesus’ Kingdom. Even in my own believing heart, even in many lovers of God, there is this sedative lethargy. It is so easy to live a life of measured goodness, to exist in the big, blank-walled box that is our expectation of a normal life bricked in by a reasonable love of God. I live in a mustard seed sized world of what is possible instead of letting a mustard seed sized faith move mountains. What would it be like to truly give all I had to the kingdom, hold nothing back, be the merchant in the parable who found that one perfect pearl and gave his whole life to own it.

I often struggle with God. To have him struggle back is shocking enough to startle me to life. Poor Jesus, grappling with such a sleepy, irate people, trying to get them to look up and see their redemption. I guess a good grapple, a sting of awakening is sometimes what I most need to rivet my sight on this Master of mine. I’m glad Jesus was a fighter. Savior, redeemer, champion wrestler. Just what I need.



Filed under Contemplations

10 responses to “When God fights back

  1. Sarah,
    You are such an amazing writer, so many times I have come here and found myself wishing I could bottle your words in a book to read and remind myself of over and over again. I am so inspired and moved to action by the incredible way you bring thoughts to life. And can I just say that I am going to be buying every book you write! =)

  2. I am thrilled to read that you are letting go and finding that fiery God who moves mountains and wrestles with those He loves. I escaped the “neat enclosure” when my handicapped boys were born (twins) and the tired old ideas just didn’t work in my life. I threw wide the doors to His Will and an amazing transformation took place. Real POWER and LEADING brought me to places I never knew could exist in my little life.

    Be bold, be open, be HIS . . .

    Life holds such joy, but boxes rarely do.

  3. continue to blow the trumpet, sarah!

  4. Jesus’ varying responses continue to intrigue me. He often calmly candidly looks people in the eye, and they are changed. Other times He responds in worn patience to his disciples that can not keep it together.

    What a mighty God who knows how I need to be responded to in order to bring change. In His perfection He responds appropriately with His peace, rebuke, patience, and mercy to my inappropriate anger, laziness, frustration, and fear.
    What a faithful communicative God we serve.

  5. Sarah,

    There are times when I read your thoughts and I am knocked windless at the depth of reasoning from a young lady that I watched grow up over the years. Your thoughts are absolutely the best I have read today and the most challenging!

  6. Hi Sarah,

    I’ve been stopping by to read now and then for a year or more. Sorry for my shyness in never commenting. I couldn’t help myself this time, though…

    YES and AMEN and AMEN!

    I’ve been doing a lot of reading in the gospels as well and I recognize that fighter.

    I’m glad too: “Savior, redeemer, champion wrestler. Just what I need.”

  7. Tim


    I was amused by this line in your excellent post:

    “I felt a little insecure about loving such a riled-up God.”

    It reminded me of one of my favorite quotations from C. S. Lewis:

    “When Christianity says that God loves man, it means that God loves man: not that He has some ‘disinterested’, because really indifferent, concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are the objects of His love. You asked for a loving God: you have one. The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the ‘lord of terrible aspect’, is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as an artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes. How this should be, I do not know. . . . We were not made primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the Divine love may rest ‘well pleased’.”

    Which is, I think, the same thing that Rich Mullins is getting at when he writes about “the reckless, raging fury that they call the love of God.”

  8. Sarah,
    I am a huge fan of your mom’s books…..this post really speaks to me. Blessed by the Lord in you. -maria

  9. Sarah

    Thank you all. I get such a warm-hearted rush when I read your comments. You are thoughtful, and contemplative, and very encouraging to say the least.

    Debbie- Wow. You have walked quite a road. I wish I could sit down with you and hear your story over tea. I love the insight and verve you bring to life and the words you leave here.

    Tim- I just love C.S. Lewis. Thanks for that quote! I’m reading a C.S. Lewis collection right now and find myself wanting to underline most of the pages.

  10. Sarah,

    I really enjoyed this post especially this line…

    “The thought that God, in Jesus, might occasionally fight back is, well, a bit terrifying.”

    I’ve been doing a study that touched on Jacob’s “wrestling” so found your thoughts extra interesting.

    Oh and those three words…lethargic, legalistic and lazy…..Ouch!!!


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