And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God (Col 1:10).
This is just one of many examples in the scriptures where the believer is encouraged to grow in knowledge of God. It is then reasonable to assume that our perceptions of God are both lacking and biased until we get to know Him better. When we attempt to make a consistent theology about God we often run into something which apparently seems as a insurmountable problem. If God is love why are there so much evil in this world, and if He is good how can we then understand all the Old Testament passages which literally are flooded in blood?
It might seem as we are faced with the same question as Adam and Eve in garden. Is God really trustworthy? Is He who He claims to be? There is no doubt that the evil one attempts to question God's character whenever the possibility arises. If God is love, how could that wonderful family loose their kid? We can all hear the echo of this question ring in our consciousness.
Two scriptures are very relevant in this context. Jesus said, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father (John 14:9). And, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation (Col 1:15). From this we can infer that an examination of Jesus will provide us with ample information about God and His character. We find that during Jesus' short period among man He was preoccupied with doing good. His main concern was restoring, alleviating and healing the human race from its sufferings under a malign system. This also became His destiny, because it "pleased" God to crucify His own son for a better good, our salvation.
We are now treading on rough ground. Found God it pleasing to punish His beloved son, or was it the solution to man's salvation He found pleasing? This is an important question we must examine. Isn't it likely that He who works everything to good for those who love Him, finds the opportunity to turn something which seems evil into something good pleasing? The devil machinated Jesus' death, but God found it pleasing because He could turn it into something good.
Let us return to the Old Testament. Can we understand the scriptures with human wisdom? Can we interpret all the passages in the Old Testament literally? Paul says,
"This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words" (1 Cor 2:13). If so, we can assume that to much of what we apply a literal approach can only be acknowledged through spiritual lenses. Many OT passages thus become passages that provide us with tools to understand our spiritual walk and life. The narratives become more than mere historical facts.
There are many things in this world which we do not understand. When we search the scriptures for answers we are often faced with seemingly impossible paradoxes. This issue about God's kindness in a wide context also easily rises contention among brothers and sisters. Many has experienced very difficult times, and there are many opinions on the matter. If we do not approach this with wisdom and love we can easily rip open old wounds, and even be perceived as callous.
My simple solution to this is that I walk not according to appearances, but faith. If God says He is love then my simple solution is to accept His word as the ultimate truth. I have also discovered that when I encounter paradoxes which are beyond the capacities of my human mind I am drawn towards God who is my security in a world which I do not quite understand. Paul says that "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us" (1 Cor 2:12). God's principle objective in this world is to make us understand grace, what He has given us and who we are in Him.
There have been written several volumes on this issue, so this note can by no means do the subject justice. Steve McVey has, though, written some insightful blog articles on this.