Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Restraint as Primary Attribute of God

Well, I guess it's a cHesed day here at The Abbey! Hmm ... actually, I think every day is a cHesed day here at The Abbey. ;^)

I've been keeping out of the whole "Wrath" series of posts over at Jesus Creed, but got snagged over at Missio Dei in a side conversation! Here's most of what I had to say:

I've been blogging a bit about covenant and hesed over at my place in an attempt to help address parts of this issue that run into the limitations of the English "love" when compared to the depths of Greek, but especially the Hebrew concept -- where it is more like a multifaceted diamond.

We see that God's lovingkindness -- his faithful covenant keeping -- is almost always the Hebrew "hesed". The same can be said for "mercy". And when we move to the NT, we can add "grace" to the pot. These are primary attitudes -- love, grace and mercy -- that are all a part of hesed. They are manifest in actions of submission, service and leading -- as summarized in the over 50 "one another" passages -- also examples of hesed.

And while I whole-heartedly agree that God is always in unity among themselves, it is challenging to see the various components of that infinite I AM-ness from our perspective as unified.

I believe that the concept of hesed, which is a huge love word, gets us closer to the reality. And, having said that, I believe that the primary attribute of God is their restraint.

It is restraint that keeps the tension between all the various components -- love, mercy, wrath, justice, sovereignty -- you name it. Restraint keeps the dance from going off-line, from stepping on toes, as it were.

Because you just cannot have relationship without restraint. And I believe that God is ultimately about relationship -- covenant relationship ... where hesed is seen in love, grace, mercy, submission, service and leading ... that is restrained in order for the best interest of the "other" to be truly served.

So, there you have it. From another angle. Best viewed with cHesed glasses! :^)


mike rucker said...

i dunno - God being 'restrained' seems like a misnomer to me. i think we only get into problems when we think we have to balance wrath/judgment and love/mercy/forgiveness. and i just don't think there's even the slightest balance in God with these attributes - in fact, i'd say He's completely out of whack in the l/m/f direction.

and i'm grateful that He is.

mike rucker
fairburn, georgia, usa

AbiSomeone said...

Hey, Mike!

These are concepts that have to be ruminated over for a long time, I think. It's not that anyone or anything is "restraining" God -- but that "they" choose restraint in order to foster/enable relationship.

I don't see it as a matter of balance, either -- just as it isn't about "being fair" -- it is about being just and merciful ... all very cHesed-like.

Yea, God is very "prodigal" in my book ... prodigal basically meaning "extravagant" and all!

Thanks for stopping by. Come again, y'hear!

joannebethel said...

I think I understand what you are saying about restraint. Would it be also "meekness"? That is to say, strength held in check so as not overwhelm.

This would be Moses, the man who easily put to death the Egyptian slavemaster, but who later hold in check his physical power, his authority, his oratory, the magnitude and force of his personality, in order that he would be approachable, and not overstep the boundaries God had given him.

If he was the meekest man, then he must also have been the most powerful and intimidating man to begin with, which would only make sense considering his stature and upbringing (since meekness is measured by the strength it holds in check).


I understand that. And meekness is a good trait for me to be perfected in.