Who do you think God is?
does he hate us? Is there only a few that he really loves?
Is God, this violent, hating being that has to murder his son so he can be at peace?
And if he does, what does that mean for us? Would we want to know this God?
Maybe for most of us, we grew up thinking that God was to be feared more than loved. In fact, I have heard it so much from christians, "the fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom", but how can I fear God and love him? Is his wrath just waiting to punish me?
If you believe god is like some prominent pastors preach, he hates only some of us!
But, where does Jesus fit in all of this?
Where does the embodiment of love, the representation of who God is, Jesus act like this?
So if Jesus is God, and he was non-violent; then is God violent?
That depends on who you are talking to it seems.
This past Sunday, we reviewed the prodigal son passage in Luke 15. The son in the story messes up. He gets everything he thinks he wants and it leaves him broke, hungry, alone and at the end of his rope. He remembers his fathers servants live better than he was, and decided that he would ask for forgiveness and to be a servant in his fathers home.
The thing is, most everyone would expect that the son should be cast away. After all, he basically wished the father was dead, he wasted all his inheritance and has nothing to show for it. But the story doesn't play out like that. In fact, it is the father who undignifies himself as he runs for his filthy son. He embraces him, kisses him. He gives him a ring to signify he is one of the family and has a feast.
What does this passage have to do with violence and God? Simple. Though this story, we get a glimpse into who God is as Jesus tells us. He is not looking to prove your guilt. He isn't on some throne in the clouds waiting to strike you with lightning. He is involved, active and looking to reconcile. He is not to concerned with the sons mess, he is concerned that he is alive and has learned great lessons.
So then why does Jesus have to die? Yeah. Why does he?
For times sake, let me just throw this out there; Jesus died to take back the kingdom of the world. He dies to forgive, to take the keys back to the world (in a sense) and conquer death. Sound crazy? Let's just look at one passage quickly:
Matthew chapter 4
Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said,
“if you will kneel down and worship me.”
“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say,
‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”
What I want you to see here is that Jesus doesn't correct Satan about who has dominion over all of the world. In fact he never says anything about it. He couldn't be tempted unless it could have been a reality. In other words, if Satan didn't have the power to give him what he was selling, then the temptation was empty.
SO, Jesus' death was the conquering of death. It was God invading the world to set it right and to invite us to join with him in the redemption of the earth. To bring down heaven to the mess we call home and to belong to a kingdom of love.
Sometimes, we use fear to get people in line because we lack the care or patience to teach how to love. We fear God much like we fear our parents as children; in a healthy way. This fear is not there because he 'hates' us, it is there because there is a certain reverence, understanding that there is so much I do not know in this universe, and God, the creator, the person, the spirit that created all of this loves us to the point of knowing each hair on our heads...
So much more to say on this topic isn't there?
the story continues....