Dec 18, 2009
Marrying Yourself to God is Love
38 years ago, in a remote neighborhood in Omaha, Nebraska, a young stressed-out mother came running out of her front door towards her two-year-old baby boy. She literally body slammed him with full force sending his little frame flying across the front lawn. She then proceeded to grab him in full view of all the neighbors and beat him repeatedly up and down his body. The child was screaming at the top of his lungs, but his mother was relentless. Several neighbors came running from their homes. One gentleman called the Fire Department and the woman next door called the police. Within several minutes, the entire neighborhood was surrounding this helpless two-year-old boy, waiting for the paramedics to rush him to the hospital. It was a frightful terrible day that actually took place in our lives when I was in the first grade.
The woman was my mother, and the little boy was my brother Brian. He nearly lost his life that day. Did my mother go to jail for the incident? NO. Did Child Protective Services pay our home a visit after that? NO. Was Brian afraid of her after what she did? NO. In fact, quite the opposite. He was drawn closer to her. Brian will openly tell you today that our mother was right in what she did, and he would do the same thing to one of his children if the situation called for it.
The But-What-About phenomenon
When I first came to the revelation that God is love, I started down the familiar path that I think most people travel on when entering this journey. It’s a pathway full of but-what-abouts at every turn. “God is love” sounds beautiful and fluffy, but what about all those passages where God told the Israelites to go into a town and kill every man, woman, and child? “God is love” but what about when He sent the flood and killed everyone on the earth in one sweep? God is love, but what about the entire Old Testament? Was He just pissed off then, and now He’s become nice? Is God Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?
As I began to take my, “God is love” with me when going on a bible reading adventure, I started to discover within myself a pattern of reasoning that would trip me up every time I came across one of these brutal passages. With “God is love” sitting right beside me like a girlfriend at a drive-in theater, I found that the moment I came across a bible story where something bloody or violent was taking place at God’s orders, I would throw my hands up in the air and kick “God is love” right out of the car. I began to realize that no matter how much I wanted to pretend I believed that God was love, I didn’t really believe it in my heart. I found that I was only dating “God is love” but I wasn’t ready for a commitment. We’d go out and have a great time together, but when things got shaky or specific bible verses looked scary to me, I dropped that belief to the side and turned to my old buddy “FEAR” to interpret the story for me.
I remember a time about seven years ago when I began toying with the idea of actually marrying myself to “God is love” and remaining faithful to Him even in the midst of reading difficult bible passages that seemed to prove otherwise. I had come to a point where He had proven to me over and over that He truly IS love, and the longer I walked with Him, the less and less I would be intimidated by those verses.
I learned that when I stood by “God is love” when traveling through Old Testament passages a new perspective would begin to bloom and a greater understanding of what was really happening would shine through for the very first time. When that began to happen, I decided to revisit every single bible verse that scared the hell out of me and purposefully hold “God is love” up to it like a lens and see what happened. What I found has rocked my world and has forever changed what I thought I knew about God in the Old Testament.
I think the reason why so many people have a difficult time with Old Testament stories is because they kick “God is love” out of the car the moment God appears to scary.
It’s no secret that most Christians prefer to highlight the picture of God given in the New Testament. They look at the Old Testament as being an unfortunate string of events where God was full of hate and wrath. Once He had a Son, however, He settled down and became a family man. It’s almost like He got saved when Jesus came and now He has repented from His old ways.
When I look at those difficult to understand passages in the bible where God was sending plagues and opening the earth to swallow entire families and killing the first born son of every family I am tempted to ask “God is love” to exit the vehicle but I close my eyes and hold on.
I don’t have to make excuses or deny that the instance took place. I don’t have to change the incident or passage in order to stick to the belief of who He is. I also don’t have to play stupid and overlook or ignore the incident altogether. When we do these things, we are needlessly trying to manipulate scripture or disconnect our hearts from the story in an effort to keep “God is love” alive in our minds. If we really believed it, we wouldn’t have to do either. I think we do these things out of desperation. We’re desperate because we’re scared and we’re scared because we don’t really believe that He IS love. It’s a double edged sword because we don’t believe God is love because of the things we see Him doing in the Old Testament, but in order to interpret the WHY behind what we see Him doing in these passages we have to believe that God is love. “God is love” is the lens through which the entire bible must be interpreted. The moment we veer from THAT, we are left with nothing but fear.
IF YOU BELIEVE GOD IS LOVE and stand on it, it will illuminate each of these difficult to understand passages in scripture and reveal an entirely different truth that you were previously unable to see. When you commit to this one central revelation about the very essence of God Himself another truth will inevitably begin to surface that will explain what’s really happening in whatever scripture you are reading. Remember; scripture IS revelation. You’re either getting the intended revelation or you’re missing it. Every time you abandon the central revelation of God’s very essence you will inevitably miss every subsequent revelation that springs forth from that one.
The problem is that we never get that far when we come across one of these scary Old Testament stories about God because we’re too busy abandoning the revelation that is central to all things; “God is love.”
Every time I hear someone citing an Old Testament passage and accusing God, in an effort to tarnish his reputation or to prove Him unworthy or loathsome, it is fear and uncertainty that causes us to see these passages the way we do. It is a lack of faith and knowledge of who He is, that causes us to question and be blind to the answers. Fear and uncertainty causes us to see everything pertaining to what it is we fear or are unsure of. If we haven’t become certain that “God is love” we will see these passages and every other as being about the very thing we are uncertain of; God’s love. If we fully believe that He IS love and we don’t flinch or back away from that truth, our eyes will be open to receiving what these passages are really a revelation of.
This is precisely why Christians see every verse and parable in the New Testament as having to do with whether or not they’ll make it to heaven. To a person who is unsure of their salvation; parables like the story of the Prodigal Son, the Talents, and the Farmer Scattering Seed, suddenly appear as a teaching about salvation and heaven and hell. Everything we read ends up being translated by our fear and uncertainty. Even a beautiful parable that depicts the Father's love for us, gets retranslated into a warning to people about their need to repent. To a fearful and uncertain person, that is all they can see. To a loving and forgiving person, that is all THEY can see.
When I was a kid I looked at a Playboy magazine my friend brought to school. I was terrified that someone would catch me. When I went home that day, everything my parents said to me seemed like they knew what I had done. Later that night, we went to church and I remember that everything the pastor said in his sermon was pointing straight to me looking at that magazine. I was convinced that the people walking by me in the halls knew what I had done. This is the point I’m making about these scary bible verses. Your eyes will focus in on the one thing you are the most nervous about and the LEAST sure about. If it’s God’s character and you’re standing with Him you haven’t decided upon yet, you’ll read these passages and they’ll appear to be nothing more than a revelation of His lack of Character and His unquenchable anger toward you.
When I decided to hold on to “God is love” and then re-read some of these Old Testament bible stories I was suddenly able to focus my eyes on the real revelation that was being shown. In fact, it was this revelation that caused me to break out into an entire teaching series on this subject, because I had never in my life considered how terrible it really was.
It was a revelation of SIN.
I think the average Christian reads about how God caused the earth to swallow an entire
These Old Testament passages that used to terrify me and scare me away from God, now cause me to run towards Him. I have a deeper appreciation
Now back to my original story about my brother Brian and my mother.
The situation was this; Brian was on fire. He had been playing with matches and lit his pants on fire. My mother was doing the dishes when she looked up and saw her baby boy completely engulfed in flames running across the front lawn. She ran out and literally saved his life with what she did.
My point is this; some people would ONLY see my mother beating Brian and they would
Today, I stand in even greater appreciation for what Christ did for us all because these Old Testament passages reveal to me the magnitude of what was accomplished on the cross. I would not have come to that beautiful truth if I had not married myself to “God is Love.”
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