I was watching a television game show recently when the host asked the contestants a question: out of 100 first-graders who were surveyed, how many believed if they plugged a flight of stairs into an outlet that flight of stairs would become an escalator? The contestants made their guesses, and then the answer was revealed. Forty-two percent of the children believed it would happen. Almost half of these young minds reasoned if you add electricity to stairs, they would become an escalator. The spiritual parallel struck me immediately — isn’t this what it’s like when we try to understand the mind of God? The children surveyed probably felt they had a good grasp on reality, as do we adults. Yet when it comes to spiritual reality I would argue we are equally, woefully ignorant.
For some reason it is common to think our personal sense of right and wrong, crime and punishment, or righteous indignation is build on solid ground. We read of God’s justice and his hatred of sin. The problem is we view it through human eyes and thus distort it beyond recognition from its source — “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8, NIV). The human being says “let’s stone the woman caught in adultery.” Jesus says to her, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11, NKJV). Likewise, the prohpet Jonah grows angry at God’s compassion over Ninevah’s repentance, then immediately grows compassionate himself over, of all things, a simple plant. When Jonah cries out over the injustice of its early death, God responds by reminding Jonah he did nothing to raise the plant, but he cared a great deal for it. Shouldn’t God care about the people of the city of Ninevah, whom he knew individually since birth, and who “cannot tell their right hand from their left” (Jonah 4:11, NIV)? Our problematic sense of right and wrong is usually a victim of its faulty foundation: typically it is built upon anything but the compassionate, self-sacrificial love of God and his desire to bring about redemption in each one of us.