Several years ago I was introduced to a book that would shape the way I think about grace and love and God. It is one of the top four books I’ve ever read, and ever so often I revisit the book to find encouragement. This March, a movie will be released that is based on this book, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.
What’s the book? The Shack by Wm. Paul Young.
Even though this is one of my favorite books, it is causing quite a stir in the Christian community especially because of how he book portrays God. This book, when you first meet God, portrays him as an overweight black woman named, Papa.
How does that affect you?
So much of our culture emphasizes the masculine. We talk about God as Father and King and rightly so. We refer to God as “him” as the bible does. But could God portray himself as a woman?
In order for us to fully understand the concept of God, we must remember that God created man and woman. There is no way on earth a man could comprehend a woman enough to create one. They’re just too enigmatic to us guys. The Creator, by necessity of the concept, must transcend the limitations of his creation. God is not a man, nor is he limited to our concepts of manhood.
God is not physical at all. The scripture says that God is Spirit (John 4:24). In the Hebrew, the word for spirit is “Ruah”, a feminine word. In fact, in this book/movie, the Holy Spirit will show itself as a woman.
In order for women to be made “in the image of God”, they must display the attributes of God. The things that you think of as feminine personality characteristics are throughout scripture as characteristics of God – not merely manly characteristics. Characteristics like love, nurture, and compassion are traditionally associated with women in our earthly culture.
So, I don’t have a problem with this book allowing God to portray himself as a woman if the situation calls for that manifestation (spoiler: later in the story, he switches back to the elderly father-look).
What’s the point? God, Jehovah, is God because he is grander than our ability to comprehend. His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). His foolishness (if that even makes sense) is wiser than man’s greatest wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:25). He existed before there were the constraints of our universe, including time. He is an other-dimensional being that we cannot fully comprehend. If we could, he would cease to be God.
Every time humans try to put limits on God – put Him in a box – He breaks the box. There are no limits to His grace and love, though many have tried to say there is. He doesn’t sleep or get tired (that gives different perspective on the need for the seventh day – rest – in Genesis 2). He is the God of the universe, above the universe, who holds the whole world in His hands.
That’s my Heavenly Father. That’s my Papa. And just like a kid comparing his dad to others’, I can’t accept any lesser God to take his place.
So, who’s your daddy? The limitless God, or some idol concocted by tradition. Mine is Jehovah.