What We Believe about God Really Matters

I recently began re-reading A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy, a book that introduces us to the various attributes of God that are entirely unique to our Creator, and entirely foreign to us finite creatures. This past week, I was reading about the immutability of God.

That’s a big, impressive word that simply means that God is forever unchanging and unchangeable. To say that God is immutable is to say that He does not grow impatient where once He felt patience toward us. He is not fickle. He does not change His attitude toward us. He does not decide that the more He comes to know us, the less excited He is about us. His values don’t change, and neither does His love.

My decision to pick this book up for the third or fourth time is not academically driven. I’m not just trying to memorize what God’s unique qualities are so I can regurgitate them if I’m ever put on the spot by one of my pastors. For me, theology really matters when it comes to living out my faith in the day-to-day realities of this often-painful life. A deep understanding of who Christ is can change how you find the energy and hope needed to start another day.

Let me tell you a true story, a story that unfolded over the course of decades.

A long time ago, there was a little girl who was eight years old. Her parents divorced. At that time, divorce was on the rise but still held a real stigma, particularly in small towns like the one where the girl and her family lived. The little girl’s mother moved to a different town “for a fresh start.” The little girl and her younger brother moved with her. With miles and miles between her and her father, the little girl only saw her daddy every other weekend.

So every other Friday night, the girl’s Dad would drive into town and pick her and her little brother up. Usually they all went out to dinner, and often they would go to a movie afterwards. Frequently, the movie was of the R-rated variety, with violence and adult themes that the two kids probably shouldn’t have seen. But both kids loved being at the theater with their Dad, sharing popcorn and candy.

Weekends with Dad were filled with special events like those movie nights, lots of dinners at restaurants, trips to the park and special events. Sometimes it felt as if Sunday evening came far too fast for the little girl. She loved her Mom very much, but life with her was much more “real.” Especially in the early years following the divorce, money was tight and there was not much left over for dinner out and movies.

Every summer, the little girl’s father also took the two kids to a theme park. When the girl turned 13, her father coaxed her into lying about her age so she would get into the park for less money. She knew it was wrong, but she wanted to please her father. Besides, theme parks were a lot of fun and she really wanted to go inside.

When she was 16, her Dad taught her to drive and often loaned her his car when she was with him. One weekend, her father caught her coming home late after a party where she’d been drinking…and then drove herself home. Dad started to admonish her for her multiple transgressions, then stopped. He chuckled, and told her to come into the house more quietly so as to not wake him up again. The girl knew her Dad had many similar teenage experiences and he likely thought it amusing that she was following in her father’s footsteps. “A chip off the old block.”

Years went by. The girl grew up. She continued to drink, and she had many relationships with young men who – while she didn’t see it at the time – clearly did not have her best interests at heart. She and her father remained companionably close, as he “silently blessed” the way she had chosen to live her life. When she married, her father seemed content with her choice of husbands. And when she divorced ten years later, Dad didn’t seem distressed by her decision to break up the family, which now included small children. Dad helped her put shelving up in her new home and encouraged her to teach her oldest child to mow the lawn.

After several years as a single mother, the girl – now a woman in her 30’s – met a Man like none other. This Man adored her with a selflessness that exceeded all expectations. She’d never known the peace of heart and soul this Man brought to her life. She grew closer and closer to Him, and over time she came to understand that she could trust Him with her heart; this Man knew her with a thoroughness and an intimacy no one ever had. His love for her was unchanging and unchangeable. He had known her all her life and yet He loved her with all His heart.

Sadly, the more the woman devoted herself to her New Love, the more distant her father grew. He seemed uncomfortable with her new relationship. Her father didn’t approve of all the time and energy she spent with Him and the things that mattered to Him. Over time, the girl’s father began to vocalize his displeasure more and more. The woman hoped that her father would accept her New Love in much the same way that he chuckled over the drinking-and-driving episode, but it became increasingly clear over time that this was not going to happen.

One day, the woman’s father said to her, essentially, “Choose.” This ultimatum broke her heart. She wanted more than anything to be allowed to love her father and her New Love…but it did not seem as though this were an option. Sadly, she told her father that she could not walk away from Him…and her Dad walked away from her.

Tozer wrote of the comforting gift of God’s unchanging heart toward us, saying this:

In this world where men forget us, change their attitude toward us as their private interests dictate, and revise their opinion of us for the slightest cause, is it not a source of wondrous strength to know that the God with whom we have to do changes not? What peace it brings to the Christian’s heart to realize that our Heavenly Father never differs from Himself.

Imagine how much peace can come when you wrap your mind around the truth that no matter what others may do – or fail to do – to cause pain in your life, God’s opinion of you is unchanging. He is immutable. He loves you with an everlasting love. His love for you transcends the mistakes and miscalculations you’ve made, and is as firm today as it was the day He willingly hung on the cross for your sake. For your sins. Nothing about God’s heart for you can or will change.

Imagine what comfort the knowledge of who God is to the girl-now-woman whose earthly relationships have caused such pain. Imagine what comfort that truth can bring you once you move past the impressive theological terminology to discover Truth in the form of a Person Who has always loved you and will never take that love away, no matter the trajectory of your life. What you believe about God can give you the strength to joyfully persevere.

Theology matters.

Matthew 10:34-39
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” 

1 John 3:1
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 

James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

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