God not an Abstraction
1 Peter 5:5-7
Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves to the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility…

(with Ephesians 4:30): — The first of these texts speaks of the Spirit of God as being hurt by frivolous speech, or wrathful passion, or irritable temper in Christians; so that He would be grieved into silence or distance by such offences. The second text speaks of God as entering into all the anxieties of our life. Thus we see that each of these great apostles, St. Paul and St. Peter, was accustomed to think of God, not as a Being too distant or impassive to be affected by our conduct or emotions, but as an ever-present, sensitive, Almighty Spirit — a living Holiness and a living Love. Such a notion of God thus disseminated throughout Europe and Asia by the apostles of Christ was new to both continents. As for the Greeks, Aristotle, the very chief thinker amongst them, says that anyone would laugh if a man were to say that he loved Jupiter. The work of Jupiter was to shake the heavens as the Thunderer, not to draw near to men, to enter into their joys or woes. What the Greeks did not know, the Romans knew not. Equally unknown to Asia was the idea of a God with feeling, one who could be grieved by men, one who could suffer with and help us. In Brahminism, the grand old religion of India, the Supreme God is always represented as lost to man in the depths of His own infinity, absorbed in the dreams of His own glory, too high and too holy to have the slightest concern for the vile universe which lesser gods had called into existence between them. In Buddhism, a comparatively modern reformation, God is removed still further from man; He loses even His personality. There is no living God at all, says today the religion of two hundred millions of mankind — only one eternal order; and the final reward of right-doing is to lose one's personal existence and become impersonal parts of the Eternal Force. Just as debased a belief in necessity, in the form of extreme Augustinianism, has prevailed among the common people of Europe. But why this reference to Asia with its errors? Because the very same influence which has been the ruin of Asia is at work around us in Europe, in Christendom. The far larger part of English thought respecting God is affected by the very same delusions as to the insensibility of the Divine nature; for is not the prevailing notion among all the ranks of our people, especially when they wish to be philosophical, that all the popular and Scriptural language respecting God as a living person near at hand, and full of active thought and feeling respecting ourselves, is only an accommodation to the weakness of the lowest order of mind? Now, if this be true, it is obvious to remark, first of all, how uninteresting a thing the worship of such a God must be! One to whom you bring thought, anxiety, emotion, passion, praise, affection, gratitude, the agonies of prayer, and who in return looks upon you as might a great marble colossus, with one calm eternal gaze of infinite power, but without the slightest approach to a responsive sympathy or fatherly love. Now, the whole of the Divine revelation which culminates in Christ is directed to the establishment of a better knowledge of Him who is not far from anyone, and who is "acquainted with all our ways." "Truly, our communion is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ." Now, consider how strange it would be if God were not such a Being as this; if He, the Creator of all sensibility, were the only Spirit who was devoid of earnest sense and feeling. Is this world the work of a Father who has no delight in His children, in their work, in their play, in their troubles, or in their joy? Is His goodness only such an attribute as withered theologians might talk of, like a dry flower in a traveller's book, only a mockery of the beautiful living reality? Is it nothing better than an abstraction? Then consider next what an effort seems to be made in nature to convey to our minds on all sides the impression of there being feeling ii, God. Does not every beautiful form in plants or flowers breathe forth the very feeling of some great work of art? But the senses do not reveal enough for the soul; the heart asks for a richer and fuller communion. We have it in Christ. Christ calls on us to unlearn that false lesson of the impassive God. Now you cannot fail to notice the bearing of such thoughts as these on all our views of God's work, both in nature and in redemption. The English pagan, the modern Buddhist, with his exalted conception of a Deity who transcends thought, and soars in his infinity far above any genuine feeling, takes what comes of outward benefit as the result of so much physical machinery guided by man's intelligence. He feels no more thankful to God for his daily blessing than he would feel thankful to a cotton engine for pouring out its endless yarn. But let a man once see through the hateful falsehood of this philosophy, and learn to believe in the all-sensitive nature which pervades the world, then how differently will he recognise the source of his daily blessings! Just as we should appreciate any entertainment given us by a friend — as a table covered with fruit or flowers — so shall we then acknowledge the ever-present love which is daily loading us with benefits. And, as we should abhor a crowd of English vagrants who might hurriedly snatch up the benefactions of some cheerful giver, and depart from his door without even a word of thankfulness or affection, so hateful will then appear the conduct of mankind who take God's gifts in daily life and depart without a look of gratitude. Much more in all that relates to Christ, the unspeakable gift. The whole lesson of the Atonement by the death of Christ is lost for those whose philosophy leads them to disbelieve in the sensibility of God to pain or to sacrifice. "He that spared not His own Son, but freely gave Him for us all." Every word here speaks of a self-crucifying compassion, a self-exacting benevolence. Once more, it is easy to see the bearing of this line of thought on our own habitual feeling towards God if we live surrounded by this all-sensitive Spirit.

(E. White.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

WEB: Likewise, you younger ones, be subject to the elder. Yes, all of you clothe yourselves with humility, to subject yourselves to one another; for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

Earthly and Heavenly Care
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