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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « God is NOT Like the Ocean (Part 2) | Why the Occult is So Dangerous »
    Thursday
    Jun142012

    God is NOT Like the Ocean (Part 1 of 2)

    (See also: Christians on Fire? )

    I was recently looking at the lyrics fold-out-thing of an old DC Talk CD of mine ("Supernatural"), when I noticed a theme of water and drowning, being lost at sea, coming home to port, floating, being submerged, sailing, etc. Mind you, I've listened to this CD hundreds of times, but I never really noticed the inside and back covers before.

     

    I’ve written before how the phrases “being on fire” for Jesus disturb me, even though I know what the speakers mean. I know the angle the artists were trying to take (God is like the ocean), but I found the actual imagery unsettling. The artists were photographed floating or submerged (drowning) in a sort-of dead-man’s float (they were at least, right side up though).

     

    The more I thought about this particular CD, the more inclined I was to research similar themes in Christian music and especially their origin. Well…it is appearing more frequently in Contemporary Christian Music (especially imagery)** and I found some websites* which expand in poetic and metaphoric ways on the following idea,

     

    If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
    So Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,”

    (Song, “How He Loves”, 2005, by John Mark McMillan)

     

    But is it true? Is God’s love like the ocean? I could be wrong, but I don’t recall any Scriptures (nor did I find any during this search) that compared God (or His love) with the ocean.

     

    Before you jump all over me for “squelching creativity”, consider: The Israelites were not a sea-faring nation, however they must have had at least some small knowledge of boats because many of them were fisherman. Even if they never saw the ocean, they did know powerful rivers (Jordan, Nile, Euphrates, etc.) and tempestuous seas and large lakes (Red Sea, Sea of Galilee, etc.).

     

    The Bible has many places (Job being a famous one) where God describes His abilities to give the ocean boundaries (Job 38) and fill it with creatures. The Book of Jonah showcases God’s power, punishment, and provision for His prophet using the “great fish” (Jonah 1:17).

     

    Jesus calmed the raging storm (Mark 4:35-41), walked on wave-tossed water (Matt. 14:22-33), and miraculously provided fish in the fishermen’s nets twice (Luke 5 and John 21), as a demonstration of His power and revelations of who He was.

     

    The Bible uses a lot of imagery and symbolism when it comes to water, but the ocean is almost invariably used to show power. And no wonder! The ocean is one of my personal favorite places to be. I grew up boating on lakes, and love the water in general.

     

    But I have a special longing for the ocean. I have never been inspired to think of God’s love when near the ocean, but His power and might. Even at calm, the ocean is so large and deep it is hard to imagine.

     

    But God is not like the ocean. The ocean is wild and unpredictable, unloving, and unmoved. It is a powerful part of creation that fascinates while it consumes and destroys, sometimes slowly by weathering rock, sometimes violently against cities. The ocean never rebuilds. It is relentless, remorseless, and unforgiving.

     

    I felt a taste of its force when on vacation with my family as a child in Florida. I was six and my father and I were playing in the waves as storm began to blow in. A tidal wave overtook us and flattened me into the sand.

     

    Everything was dark, I didn’t know which way was up, and I couldn’t hear. Had my Dad not been able to hold my hand, I may not be alive. As it was, I came up spluttering completely covered in sand, salt, and seaweed.

     

    Another time I went to Lake Superior in Michigan and reveled in the cool wind whipping my hair and tossing the waves into a foam. I sang loudly and no one could hear (I could hardly hear myself) because the strong wind carried my voice away.

     

    The ocean thrills me because it is so powerful, yet it is not God. God has revealed Himself through His creation (all art has the mark of its creator), but He does not reside in it. Neither does God in the Bible ask us to “drown ourselves” (or be consumed) in His love, grace, or mercy. On the contrary, Isaiah 43:2-3 says,

    When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;”.

     

    Psalm 42:7 says,

    Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” This context echoes the rest of the Bible and my experience-the singer has been crushed and overcome by the water (not a good thing).

     

    God did not ask the Israelites to submit to the waves, but He moved the Red Sea (Exodus 14) (and the Egyptians chasing them drowned) and the Jordan River (Joshua 3) so they could walk on dry land. God saved Jonah (Jonah 1) and baby Moses (Exodus 2) from drowning.

     

    Jesus saved the disciples (Mark 4:35-41) and Peter (Matt. 14:22-33) from drowning. Best example of all, God saved Noah and his family from the great flood, drowning the rest of creation and sin (Genesis 6-8).

     

    So where did this idea originate if not from Bible, and what's the big deal anyway? See part 2.

     

    *(Most of them are mystical-Catholic/Buddhist/Hindi-in nature)

     

    https://lthomason.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/love-like-the-ocean-a-devotion/

     

    http://www.examiner.com/article/god-like-the-ocean

     

    http://charlotteclark.theworldrace.org/?filename=his-love-is-an-ocean-and-we-are-all-sinking

     

    http://www.christianblog.com/blog/childofjesus/love-like-an-ocean/

     

    http://swamirajkeerti.blogspot.com/2010/11/god-is-like-ocean.html

     

    http://thoughtsasigo.blogspot.com/2010/09/like-ocean-waves.html

     

    **Christian Music with "ocean" themes:

    I cannot honestly leave out a favorite kiddie/folk song, “Peace like a river…joy like a fountain…love like an ocean…in my soul”.

     

    Interestingly, the Jars of Clay song, “Flood” describes a person being saved from his flood by God. Therefore, it is theologically correct.

     

    Toby Mac's "City On Our Knees" (he seems to have a slew of songs recently with somewhat violent verses, like "Captured")

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