The Wildness of God: What It Means for Our Faith and Our Lives
The Wildness of God
When we think of God, we often imagine him as a benevolent ruler, a wise teacher, a loving father, or a faithful friend. These are all true and beautiful aspects of who God is, but they are not the whole picture. There is another dimension of God's character that we sometimes overlook or ignore: his wildness.
The Wildness of God
What does it mean to say that God is wild? It does not mean that he is chaotic, irrational, or unpredictable. Rather, it means that he is free, sovereign, and transcendent. He is not bound by our expectations, assumptions, or limitations. He is not tame or domesticated. He is not safe or comfortable. He is wild.
How does this challenge our conventional views of God? It challenges us to recognize that God is not a product of our imagination, but a reality that transcends our understanding. It challenges us to admit that we do not have God figured out, but that he always has more to reveal to us. It challenges us to surrender our control and let God be God.
In this article, we will explore three ways that we can encounter the wildness of God: in nature, in scripture, and in our lives. We will see how the wildness of God can inspire us, transform us, and invite us into a deeper relationship with him.
The Wildness of God in Nature
God's wildness in creation
One of the most obvious ways that we can experience the wildness of God is by looking at his creation. The natural world is full of wonders that reflect the power, beauty, and mystery of God. From the vastness of the cosmos to the intricacy of the cell, from the diversity of life forms to the harmony of natural laws, from the splendor of sunsets to the majesty of mountains, nature reveals the glory of God.
But nature also reveals the wildness of God. Nature is not always predictable or controllable. It can be fierce and violent, as well as gentle and peaceful. It can be awe-inspiring and terrifying, as well as soothing and calming. It can be a source of joy and delight, as well as pain and suffering. Nature shows us that God is not only good and loving, but also holy and awesome.
As Walter Brueggemann writes, "Gods wildness is a multiplied version of the boot-quaking awe we experience when we gaze upon the Grand Canyon. The wildness of God causes us to acknowledgement sheer power and majesty, to realize our respective size to that of the universes, and the universes size in respect to the Creator. Its an acknowledgment of other, and its a face to face with something infinitely grander than ourselves."
God's wildness in the wilderness
Another way that we can encounter the wildness of God in nature is by going to the wilderness. The wilderness is a place where we are exposed to the elements, where we face our fears and weaknesses, where we depend on God for our survival. The wilderness is a place where we meet God in a raw and intimate way.
The Bible is full of stories of people who encountered God in the wilderness. Abraham left his homeland and followed God into the unknown. Moses met God in the burning bush and led his people out of slavery. Elijah heard God's still small voice in the cave. John the Baptist preached repentance in the desert. Jesus was tempted by the devil and ministered by angels in the wilderness. Paul spent three years in Arabia after his conversion.
These stories show us that God uses the wilderness to teach us, to test us, to purify us, and to prepare us for his purposes. As Scott Hubbard writes, "Often, God teaches us how to handle his gifts rightly by first withholding them." The wilderness strips us of our distractions, comforts, and idols, and makes us hunger for God alone. The wilderness shows us that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3).
The Wildness of God in Scripture
God's wildness in revelation
A third way that we can experience the wildness of God is by reading his word. The Bible is not a boring or outdated book, but a living and active word that speaks to us today. The Bible is not a collection of human opinions, but a revelation of God's mind and heart. The Bible is not a manual of rules, but a story of love and grace.
But the Bible also reveals the wildness of God. The Bible is not always easy or clear. It can be challenging and confusing, as well as enlightening and comforting. It can be surprising and shocking, as well as reassuring and familiar. It can be a source of wisdom and guidance, as well as conviction and correction. The Bible shows us that God is not only rational and logical, but also creative and poetic.
God speaks to us in unexpected and surprising ways through his word. He speaks through dreams and visions, through parables and riddles, through symbols and metaphors, through poetry and prophecy, through irony and humor, through silence and mystery. He speaks through different genres, styles, cultures, and languages. He speaks through human authors, who express their personalities, emotions, perspectives, and experiences. He speaks through Jesus Christ, who is the Word made flesh.
God's wildness in redemption
Another way that we can encounter the wildness of God in scripture is by following his story. The Bible is not a random or disjointed book, but a coherent and unified story that tells us what God has done, what he is doing, and what he will do. The Bible is not a history of human achievements, but a drama of God's actions. The Bible is not a record of events, but a testimony of faith.
But the story also reveals the wildness of God. The story is not always predictable or controllable. It can be dramatic and suspenseful, as well as peaceful and calm. It can be tragic and heartbreaking, as well as joyful and hopeful. It can be a source of wonder and gratitude, as well as anger and doubt. The story shows us that God is not only faithful and consistent, but also dynamic and adventurous.
God acts in history to save his people and the world in unexpected and surprising ways through his story. He acts through miracles and signs, through judgments and deliverances, through promises and covenants, through wars and exiles, through kings and prophets, through priests and sacrifices. He acts through Israel, who is his chosen people, but also rebellious and unfaithful. He acts through Jesus Christ, who is his Son, but also crucified and risen. He acts through the church, who is his body, but also flawed and weak.
The Wildness of God in Our Lives
God's wildness in our hearts
A fourth way that we can experience the wildness of God is by opening our hearts to him. Our hearts are not machines or stones, but living organs that beat with life. Our hearts are not static or fixed, but dynamic and changing. Our hearts are not empty or cold, but full and warm.
God's wildness in our actions
Another way that we can encounter the wildness of God in our lives is by following his call to action. Our lives are not meaningless or boring, but purposeful and exciting. Our lives are not passive or stagnant, but active and dynamic. Our lives are not safe or comfortable, but risky and adventurous.
But our actions also reveal the wildness of God. Our actions are not always easy or clear. They can be challenging and confusing, as well as rewarding and fulfilling. They can be surprising and shocking, as well as reassuring and familiar. They can be a source of growth and transformation, as well as failure and regret. Our actions show us that God is not only gracious and merciful, but also demanding and challenging.
God calls us to follow him in unexpected and surprising ways through our actions. He calls us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. He calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him. He calls us to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. He calls us to be salt and light in the world. He calls us to make disciples of all nations. He calls us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with him.
The wildness of God is a reality that we cannot ignore or avoid. It is a reality that challenges us, inspires us, transforms us, and invites us into a deeper relationship with him. It is a reality that we need to embrace and celebrate.
What are the benefits and challenges of embracing the wildness of God? The benefits are that we get to know God more fully and personally, that we get to experience his power and beauty more intensely and intimately, that we get to participate in his story and mission more faithfully and joyfully. The challenges are that we have to let go of our control and trust in his sovereignty, that we have to face our fears and weaknesses and depend on his grace, that we have to leave our comfort zones and follow his call.
How can we live with hope and trust in his goodness? We can live with hope and trust in his goodness by remembering his promises, by relying on his presence, by rejoicing in his provision, by responding to his guidance, by reflecting his character, by reproducing his image, by restoring his creation.
The wildness of God is not something to be feared or avoided, but something to be loved and welcomed. It is not something that separates us from him, but something that draws us closer to him. It is not something that diminishes our lives, but something that enriches our lives.
As C.S. Lewis wrote in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, "Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."
Here are some frequently asked questions about the wildness of God:
What does it mean that God is wild? It means that he is free, sovereign, and transcendent. He is not bound by our expectations, assumptions, or limitations. He is not tame or domesticated. He is not safe or comfortable. He is wild.
How can we encounter the wildness of God? We can encounter the wildness of God in nature, in scripture, and in our lives. We can see his power, beauty, and mystery in creation and in the wilderness. We can hear his voice and witness his actions in revelation and in redemption. We can feel his presence and follow his call in our hearts and in our actions.
Why does God reveal his wildness to us? God reveals his wildness to us because he loves us and wants us to know him more fully and personally. He reveals his wildness to us because he wants to challenge us, inspire us, transform us, and invite us into a deeper relationship with him.
How should we respond to the wildness of God? We should respond to the wildness of God with awe and reverence, with gratitude and praise, with surrender and obedience, with faith and hope.
What are some examples of the wildness of God in the Bible? Some examples of the wildness of God in the Bible are: God creating the heavens and the earth out of nothing, God appearing to Moses in a burning bush and sending the plagues on Egypt, God parting the Red Sea and leading his people through the wilderness, God speaking to Elijah in a still small voice and sending fire from heaven, God becoming flesh in Jesus Christ and performing miracles and signs, God dying on the cross and rising from the dead, God pouring out his Spirit on the church and empowering them to preach the gospel.