I remember years ago I was attending a Bible study group who chose to focus on a self-help type book (instead of the Bible). As these ideas go, for Bible studies, they usually are hugely unprofitable. I was surprised however when reading through John Eldredge’s “Wild At Heart” to see a beautiful case for God’s relation to man. God’s relationship with us and with our world is just that: a relationship:
As with every relationship, there’s a certain amount of unpredictability, and the ever-present likelihood that you’ll get hurt. The ultimate risk anyone ever takes is to love, for as C. S. Lewis says, “Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal.” But God does give it, again and again and again, until he is literally bleeding from it all. God’s willingness to risk is just astounding—far beyond what any of us would do were we in his position.
A relationship is, in fact, a two-way street. We give and receive, and open ourselves up to vulnerabilities. God did the same when he chose to create mankind. At the height of Israel’s rejection, he laments this give and take relationship in Isaiah:
Isa 5:1 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:
Isa 5:2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
Isa 5:3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.
Isa 5:4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
God is showing how much hurt Israel has inflicted upon him. His yearning for love soon turns towards bitter judgment, and he declares destruction on Israel:
Isa 5:5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
Isa 5:6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
So, yes, God loves and is loved in return. God opens himself to hurt, and sometimes is hurt in turn. But, our author John Eldredge wants a loving, vulnerable God in an “unpredictable relationship” while having the changeless god of Calvinism. In the very next paragraph he states:
Trying to reconcile God’s sovereignty and man’s free will has stumped the church for ages. We must humbly acknowledge that there’s a great deal of mystery involved, but for those aware of the discussion, I am not advocating open theism. Nevertheless, there is definitely something wild in the heart of God.
Really? God is changeless, static, impassible AND wild?