Since entering Seminary, the scope and breadth of how I view and understand God has changed a bit. Well, a lot.
I sat in my room teary eyed and wholly upset at God after learning that He regretted making us in Genesis 6:6: “…and the LORD was sorry that He made humankind on the earth and it grieved Him to His heart.” (NSRV)
I knew He destroyed the earth because we (humankind) couldn’t get our lives right, but daaaaang. Regret? Sorrowful? We grieved You?
Once I got over feeling some kind of way (honestly, that really hurt my feelings!), I began to see that nearly every encounter God had with man in the Old Testament was fueled by His insatiable desire to have a relationship with us. This anthropomorphic God (one with human-like characteristics, feelings, thoughts, interactions) was desperate to have us as His own, be thankful to Him for creating us, and, in whatever way possible, live our lives as He said we should.
He, like all “parents” do, had a plan for His kids. Our disobedience, however, brought about some of the most discussed, disparaging, and body-of-Christ splitting occurrences in the bible. We see a God who passes judgment on Hebrews and enemies alike for disobedience; God attempts to kill Moses for his disobedience (Exodus 4:18-31) despite God giving him the charge of delivering the Hebrews out of Egypt (clearly, obeying His ordinances was more important than some God-given assignment, eh?) We see God obliterate the Egyptians and their first-born sons for refusing to let His chosen people worship Yahweh as they wanted to — even going so far to intentionally hardening Pharoah’s heart to up the ante and make the punishments for disobedience grow and grow by the day. “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, so that I will gain the glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD. And they did so.” (Exodus 14:4)
In the new dispensation of our faith, grace and mercy rules the coop. Jesus’ death and resurrection is the foundation of everything we believe, and in many ways, we have forgotten the vengeance and judgment of God.
Jesus makes us feel good. His sermons and parables of fish and salt and lights on a hill are so applicable and practical — it’s like a Publix commercial during the holidays: just makes you want to hug somebody, cook some food, and share it (and the gospel) with good people.
But we’ve forgotten the vengeance and judgment of God.
We’ve forgotten that He’s serious about us — and serious with those who come against us. He desperately wants us, and after millenniums of trying to get us to do right on our own, He sent Jesus to stand in the gap. When God looks at us, He sees us through the blood stained garments of Jesus. He doesn’t do what He should to us because Jesus keeps playing “keep away” with God!
Lest we have forgotten, God is no punk. He’s not here to play games on Sunday (or Saturday, if that’s your practice). He is cut throat, vengeful, angry, wrathful, and passes judgment at His discretion. Why? Because He’s holy and wants us to be holy as well. He wants to have a well-balanced relationship with us that brings pleasure to both parties. He’s not down for a one-sided venture to eternity; He wants us to walk with Him.
Now wait, does this mean we walk around in all white, sacrificing goats or living like the Old Testament law says? Absolutely not. However, there is something to be said about honoring Him in the most sacred place of all: our hearts.
A friend mentioned that he was growing tired of so many preachers presenting no balance to the grace message, sending folks on their way with rose-tinted glasses that God is pleased with our mediocrity and that how we feel rules over God’s expectations. Forget yo’ feelings: God wants your heart!
In light of the monstrous storm battering the northeast, many have said that the storm is a “sign of judgment” from God. We need to “get right!”, they say.
I love what Stephen Prothero from CNN’s Religion Blog had to say about this “judgment”:
“As for me, I am less sure about what God wills for our storms (political or otherwise). In my view, any God worth worshiping isn’t going to be so predictable, or so capricious… When it comes to storms like Sandy, I just don’t believe in a God who drowns black babies in Haiti yet refuses to drown out the voices of cranky white men who claim so irreverently to speak in His name.”
God isn’t some faux wizard behind the smoke and mirrors of the “Great and Powerful Oz” using switch levers and buttons controlling this earth… at least I don’t think so. We can’t say one way or the other if the things that occur in the earth that bring destruction and death are “God’s doing.”
What we can say is that He’s still desperately seeking for our hearts to turn back to Him and will go at any lengths to get them back.
Yes, God passes judgment on us. Yes, He allows the enemy to come in and wreak havoc until we get our minds back on track. Sometimes we recover, sometimes we don’t. I am reminded as I go through this Seminary experience, though: It’s dangerous to teach grace without teaching judgment. Have you ever met a kid that was never punished for anything? They’re brats. And the absolute worst.
I’m at the place where I’m seeing and learning that God is really desperate for us. He’s revealed Himself to us in ways that we can’t fathom, given to us in ways we don’t deserve. Building relationship with Him is something He wants. His desperation for us exudes from every crevice of this earth.
Grace and judgment: what a dynamic duo.
On the “don’t-cast-your-judgment-on-me, I’m-working-on-my-relationship-with-you” Chase,
15 thoughts on “A Desperate God”
Thoughtful and intriguing perspective
Mercy triumphs judgement. His love is greater. Always greater. The THIEF comes to kill and destroy. God doesn’t cause death. He is life. Sin causes death. Sin is poison. It eats away at our minds, our spirits, our bodies. That is why the wages of sin is death. BUT, the gift is eternal life through the Messiah. Oh how He loves us. His LOVE is what leads to repentance.
But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. — 1 John 2:27
Thanks for your thoughts, Jen!
You’re welcome Miss Alisha. 🙂 If you would like to follow my blog, let me know. I will have to add your email bc its private at the moment.
Sure! Piecemetogether at gmail dot com!
Oh, I see that you are using wordpress, and just want to encourage you to back up your blogs. I had a WordPress blog and it got hacked. I lost over 100 postings. I now use Blogger. 🙂
Ok you’re in. Mine is acupofjen at blogspot dot com.
Thanks for the reminder…..great piece AG!
This is what the body of Christ need across the religious sectors. Thank you so much!!
Hi, Alisha! I am compelled to respond especially re: Stephen Prothero’s blog. It is very interesting to me that people do not want to think of God as One who will declare judgment on people who are sinning especially when it effects babies. Well, He is the same God yesterday, today and forever. I was just reading Ezekiel 9:3-11 again where God sent a man (an angelic host) to mark those who were crying because of the abominations of the people so that they would not be destroyed. He then sent more men to follow and kill men, women and children without any pity because of their sins. Even Jesus said that He did not come to destroy the law (Matthew 5:17). God has standards. And while we are in a time of grace, I pray that people will not take grace for granted and forget that God does chasten and judge. And He is keeping record of even the cranky white men who so irreverently speak His name. However, it is not for us to determine when God establishes judgment, but know that unless they repent judgment will soon follow.
It is a privilege to follow Jesus; there must be conditions on following for it to be a privilege. I love this post, btw.
It is a privilege to follow Jesus, therefore there must be conditions on it. We are conduits of his grace for others, and if our actions do not reflect this, then he does not get the glory.
Exactly! Our victories (or failures) are a direct reflection of God. We have to be cognizant of that! Thank you for posting and sharing!