Is God Nice?

There’s this theologically-shallow belief that is treading through people’s lives that God is nice. It’s as if people are saying, as one of the senior ladies at church would say about so-and-so, “He’s so nice!” There would be a look of satisfaction on the white-haired lady’s face in saying that about someone. That opinion of God is also saturated with misguided satisfaction.

You see, God is gracious, but niceness is an adjective taped to Him by a world that wants to see Him as a “Yes God”, a happy-face deity, sprinkling angel dust upon His children and answering our dreams and wishes because He’s…nice!

In my reading of the Bible this year I’m almost finished with the Old Testament book of Numbers. If you were looking for a word to describe the Lord Almighty in Numbers, nice would not jump to the top of the list. I’d say He’s loving and demanding, offering blessings and judgments, forgiving and disciplining. He demanded atonement for wrongdoing.

Holiness is not the same as niceness. Perfection is on a different level than mostly-good. Most of us want our life to be filled with nice things, people who treat us nice, nice feelings, nice times, and echoes of “Nice!” being mentioned to us about our decisions, our accomplishments, and our creations. A holy God, however, does not operate on the basis of whether we are satisfied and secure. That’s not saying that He’s mean and prone to sending lightning bolts upon the heads of unrepentant sinners. After all, His grace and love is shown in Jesus, and Jesus surrendering His life so that we might live.

So where does this idea of niceness in describing our Creator come from? It comes from the book of our hopes, and how we wish things in this world operated. It develops in our minds as we adjust our theology to balance on top of a see-saw of good and bad. It comes from that idea that if God is a loving God He will not send anyone to eternal darkness. In other words, a nice god only does nice things.

Some people only want to hear half the story, the nice half…the half that includes no negative repercussions. Here’s the thing! A God who operates on grace and forgiveness is much more demanding of Him than a god who is just nice.

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