Mother’s Day – 2010 – The Softer Side Of God
A few years ago Sears ran a big marketing campaign to try to encourage more sales from women. They called it, The “softer” side of Sears.
The concept was one where by people would realize that along with the Craftsman tools and guy stuff, there was also another side of Sears that would appeal more to the ladies.
God as mother.
Not trying to encourage a rewriting of the Bible with Gender neutral language as some would like to do. Jesus called God Father and every place God is mentioned in the Bible it is with the masculine pronoun. Not once in the Bible is God addressed as mother, said to be mother, or referred to with feminine pronouns. On the contrary, gender usage throughout clearly specifies that the root metaphor is masculine father.
We are told that we are created in God’s image.
Genesis 1:27 (NIV)
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
What is God's image? Scripture describes God as "rock," "lily of the valley," "rose of Sharon," "fortress," "honey," and a wide variety of other images. Each image helps us understand a bit more about God, though none of these is totally God.
For us as humans, the searching for images takes a different turn as we are told early on in Genesis that we are "created in the image of God." As we begin looking for the human images of God in scripture, we find "eyes" and "ears," "feet" and "fingers," "hearts," and "minds" and "mouths." This anthropomorphic language is given to us in both male and female descriptions of God.
In fact, the divine nature includes the perfections of both genders. So, even though God reveals Himself mainly in Scripture from a male perspective, we do know that He is neither male nor female and we do some times see glimpses of His softer side. The feminine aspect of who God is.
A couple of Scripture passages that teach that God is neither man nor woman are found in Numbers 23:19 and 1 Samuel 15:29.
Numbers 23:19 "God is not a man that he should speak falsely, nor human that he should change his mind. Is he one to speak and not act, to decree and not fulfill?"
Both of these texts stress the absolute fact that God is someone true to his word. God is not human, and therefore He is not prone to acting contrary to what he has said or changing his mind (as humans do).
God is neither man nor woman. Jesus said as much in John 4:24 when He said that “God is Spirit and His worshippers must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.
In spite of the fact that God is neither male nor female, what we see in Scripture that God’s Word uses language that is distinctly male and female to describe God.
So, being Mother’s Day, I thought we would spend some time this morning in the Bible looking at the Scriptures that speak directly to the qualities of God that we might more readily equate with the characteristics of a mother. Yes, the Bible does reveal God to us in a masculine sense. But what can we learn about God today and His more feminine side.
I. God Is Able To Give New Birth.
Deuteronomy 32:18 refers to " You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.”
Just as each of us had a mom who gave birth to us, we have a God who greatly enjoys new beginnings and new birth.
In the beginning of time God, the Bible tells us, created heaven and earth and everything that exists. Look around, everything you can experience, all of life is as a result of God who brought it into existence. The same is true for each person. You were not an accident, or a mistake. The Bible tells us that God knew you before you were even formed in your mom’s womb. God is never surprised by a baby being born. He doesn’t even wait with anticipation to hear if it is a baby boy or a girl. He knows it all.
The softer side of God is one of a beloved mother who has been through the birth pains and now is able to hold her baby in her arms and look at that child with such awe and admiration.
Especially rich in its use of maternal imagery is the second part of Isaiah. Isaiah 42:14 depicts Yahweh as saying, "I cry out as a woman in labor, gasping and panting."
What a beautiful attribute and characteristic God has chosen to share with women.
We know, of course, that God also provides new birth for us on a spiritual level as well.
New birth given to each of us when we receive Christ. Look with me over at John chapter 3 and look at what God says via His one and only son about being born spiritually.
–Nicodemas – John 3
We learn from this passage that God delights in creation and new birth as part of who He is. Today, as we honor mothers, we can also remember to honor and praise God for this view of His softer side. His love, His compassion, His gentle delight in all things new.
APPLICATION: Let me ask, you obviously have experienced life physically. God created you and knit you together in your mother’s womb. He loves you so much. Have you been birthed a second time? Have you experienced a spiritual birth? Jesus couldn’t have been much clearer that every human has the potential of two births. Once physically and a second time spiritually.
II. God, Like A Mother, Provides Security And Sustenance. (Psalm 22:10)
Psalm 22:10 says of God, "You have been my guide since I was first formed, my security at my mother's breast. To you I was committed at birth, from my mother's womb you are my God."
The image of a woman holding her baby close and breast feeding is one that brings about a sense of a tender moment where a child is sure to feel secure and comforted.
The Psalmist is saying that God, when we consider His softer side, is like that. When we allow God to draw us near and be our sustenance and our security we, in essence allow Him to be our all in all.
Ah, I’m right where I need to be! Safe and secure
As we celebrate and honor mom’s today we see a glimpse of God’s softer side in this attribute of holding us near and protecting us securely and providing our all in all. Providing everything we need.
God has blessed us by giving mom’s this same attribute. This ability to bring security and guidance to their children.
Let’s face it, most moms have a built in ability to guide and direct their children. Some are better at it than others. But even the most lacking mother has some sense of guiding their child.
APPLICATION: Are you seeking your security in Christ? Or are you looking elsewhere?
The masculine side of God is given in the imagery of the psalmist in Psalms 20:7 -
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
The bottom line is that it is possible to place our sense of security in other places and things. Our bank account, our good looks, our intellect… the list goes on. Today, as we think about the softer side of God we need to focus on the idea of placing all our senses of security first and foremost in God.
III. God Provides Contentment. (Psalm 131:2)
Psalms 131:2 (NIV)
2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
The psalmist applies this language to God, suggesting a maternal image of God.
Hebrew children were often not weaned till three years old.
When a child is breast feeding it cannot hardly sit on its mother’s lap without moving and searching for milk. There is a constant hunger for more from mom.
When a child is weaned there is a sense of contentment and assurance just in being in the presence of mom. No need for something more, no craving, no demanding need. Just a comfort that comes from being close to mom.
In this verse we see God as the mom. He is the one who can provide for our every need and too often we fret and twist and turn and crave and demand from Him like a child that is not yet weaned.
This imagery allows us to see the softer side of God with us being content and at peace in God’s presence.
APPLICATION: Are you experiencing contentment in your life today? Have you learned the truth that real, honest contentment can only be found in Christ? Without this softer side image of God we see that we are continually coming up short. Constantly looking for something more. We never seem to be content to just sit in the presence of Christ. We say, “if I just had this, or if I just had that…” then I would be finally happy and content. Today, make the decision to let God be your source of contentment. Like a weaned child, sit on His lap and lay your head against Him. Be content just to be His child and stop fretting and craving for stuff to bring you happiness.
IV. God Cares For Us As A Mother Cares For Her Child. (Isaiah 42:14; 49:15; 66:13)
God comforts us:
In Isaiah 49:15 we read, "Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you."
Isaiah 66:13 (NIV)
13 As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem."
These two word pictures help us see the softer side of God. He is tender, always remembers us and doesn’t take us for granted. He comforts us as a mom does her baby. We imagine quiet tones and lullaby’s song softly to us. I think of a mom kissing a boo boo and making it better. Now granted, the spitting on an old Kleenex and wiping my face off is not a pleasant image, but the care, the attention given, those qualities are a key part of who God is!
The Bible also communicates Mother-like qualities of God by looking at God like a Mother from the animal kingdom:
God protects us:
Matthew 23:37 (NIV)
37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.
Duet. 32:11-12 describes God's caring as a mother eagle: " like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions.
The LORD alone led him; no foreign god was with him.
God so desires to provide protection for each of us. Unfortunately we all too often refuse to draw near to Him and receive the protection of His wings as we see described in this metaphor. Like a mother hen or an eagle He wants to have us come to Him for our safety and protection.
Another verse that demonstrates this is found in Hosea:
In Hosea, God is even described as a mother bear protecting the cubs she has just fed: " Hosea 13:8a
8 Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and rip them open.
These fierce, protecting images of God strengthen both our concepts of God and of the caring mother.
We have all heard the expression don’t mess with a bear’s cubs. Whether the bear is real or figurative. You don’t want to mess around with a mother’s children. That instinct to protect is fiercely built into every mom. That is how God feels about us! He wants to protect you and me. To protect us from bad choices and decisions in life. He wants to protect us from all those things in life that will bring us long-lasting harm.
Let me ask you? Are you looking to Him for protection? Are you rushing to the shelter of His wings, to the nearness of Him so that He can keep you safe?
How do we do this. Like a human mom who is there to give us advice and watches over us with care and compassion, we need to spend time with her.
The same is true with God. If we want to experience His protection we need to draw near.
This is a recurring theme of the Bible.
Jesus said that His desire is to draw us to Himself.
John 12:32 (NIV)
32 But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."
In James we find that when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.
James 4:8 (NKJV)
8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
And in one portion of Scripture, Jesus makes it very clear that drawing near goes beyond just lip service.
Matthew 15:8 (NKJV)
8 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.
Imagine for a moment a scene where a Mother calls her child to come and she proceeds to talk with the child about decisions they are making. She warns them about the dangers of going down the road they are heading down. Unfortunately as you look closer you see that the child isn’t paying attention. He or she is texting a friend, or listening to their iPod. They say, “yeah, ok, sure mom.” And then walk away ignoring the warnings.
That is just lip service with no heart attitude.
God, is wanting you and me, like a mother wants her children, to come to Him. To draw near and to heed His warnings and receive our comfort, our protection, our significance from Him.
Summary: So what does this mean for us today? Today we celebrate and honor moms. Every time we look at or think about our mom we should be reminded of these mom-like qualities of God. We should look to the softer side of God as a loving mother who wants to nurture and protect and guide us.
God loves each of us today as a Mother loves her children. Today let’s thank our moms and God for making our moms a continual reminder of His love for us!