We adopt the language of the people around us, and often phrases get imbedded in our language, and then in our mindsets. Often this process is so fluid that we don’t stop to question and think about the implications of some of the things we say.
There is a phrase that I have heard all my christian life. Pastors have said it. Friends have said it. Even I have said it. However, I’m not sure its true; at least not in the way that we think it is.
The phrase is this: “God is trying to…” Most commonly the next words are “…to get your attention.” Whether the end of the sentence is about your attention or any other subject is irrelevant to the point I want to make. The concept of God “trying” something is curious to me. Allow me to explain.
The word “try” implies effort. If I desire an A on a test, then I will put forth an effort to make that happen. I will take time to study, read the lessons, make note cards, etc, and hopefully my best efforts will pay off with a good grade.
Humans are finite beings: we are limited by time, energy, resources, understanding, etc. God however, is not. He is infinite, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-percieving, and all-whatever-else-you-can-think-of. So does it make any sense to think of him “trying” to do something? Would it not make more sense to conceptualize Him in the following manner: He doesn’t try anything, he just does or does not. (Kind of like Yoda 🙂 )
What he does do, he does knowing the exact outcome, and what he doesn’t do, he doesn’t do knowing the exact outcome. Everything he does or doesn’t do has purpose in it, and to conceptualize him as trying to do something (in other words ‘guessing’ at the outcome he hopes for) seems kinda goofy and illogical to me.
Granted, I have not done a thorough study of scripture with this in my mind. There are times in which God (especially in the Old Testament) seems to have very human-like qualities to him. (He regretted making humans in Gen 7, Abraham bargained with him to not destroy a city, etc…) From which one could draw the conclusion that there are aspects of him that are ‘looser’ than we typically think of God as (looser is not a perfect word, but its the best I could come up with). On the other hand of that, however, it could be stated that He put those examples in there to seem more relatable to fallen creatures [but even this hypothesis circles in on itself, as it evidences an “attempt to try” to do something…ehh.].
I’d appreciate your thoughts on this, as I’m less sure of this than it might seem…