Does God have a good heart? When we think of God as Author, the Grand Chess Player, the Mind Behind It All, we doubt his heart. As Melville said, “The reason the mass of men fear God and at bottom dislike him is because they rather distrust his heart, and fancy him all brain, like a watch.” Do you relate to the author when reading a novel or watching a film? Caught up in the action, do you even think about the author? We identify with the characters in the story precisely because they are in the story. They face life as we do, on the ground, and their struggles win our sympathy because they are our struggles also. We love the hero because he is one of us, and yet somehow rises above the fray to be better and wiser and more loving as we hope one day we might prove to be.
The Author lies behind, beyond. His omniscience and omnipotence may be what creates the drama, but they are also what separates us from him. Power and knowledge don’t qualify for heart. Indeed, the worst sort of villain is the kind who executes his plans with cold and calculated precision. He is detached; he has no heart. If we picture God as the mastermind behind the story—calling the shots while we, like Job, endure the calamities—we can’t help but feel at times what C. S. Lewis was bold enough to put words to: “We’re the rats in the cosmic laboratory.” Sure, he may have our good in mind, but that still makes him the “vivisectionist”—the experimenter.
We root for the hero and heroine, even come to love them, because they are living in the drama. They feel the heartache, they suffer loss and summon courage and shed their own blood in their struggles against evil. What if ? Just what if we saw God not as Author, the cosmic mastermind behind all human experience, but as the central character in the larger story? What could we learn about his heart?
And that’s the memo.
By John Eldredge from Sacred Romance