Dec 18, 2009
Marrying Yourself to God is Love
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 basically killed everyone and every animal on the earth? 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 definite pattern of reasoning that would trip me up when I came across 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” because I wasn’t ready for a commitment. We’d go out and have a great time together, but when things got shaky or verses looked scary, I dropped that belief to the side and turned to my old buddy “FEAR” to interpret the situation.
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 when reading bible passages that seemed to prove the exact opposite. 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 started to 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 or a microscope and see what happened. What I found has rocked my world and has forever changed my view of the “Old Testament God” I had feared so much.
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 they encounter something harsh. Most Christians I know prefer to spend their time in the New Testament. They think the Old Testament was an unfortunate string of events where God was full of hate and wrath, but once He had a Son, He settled down and became a family man.
When I look at passages in the bible where terrible things happen, and I hold on to “God is love”, I don’t have to make excuses or deny that the instance took place. You don’t have to change the incident or passage in order to stick to the belief of who He is. You also don’t have to play stupid and overlook or ignore the incident or passage. When we do these things, we are desperately trying to manipulate scripture or disconnect our hearts in an effort to keep “God is love” alive. 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. We’re scared because we don’t really believe that God is love.
IF YOU BELIEVE IT and stand on it, another truth will inevitably begin to surface. That truth that you believe will open up an entirely different realm of truth to you and you’ll be able to see further and deeper into the circumstance than you could before.
It is fear and uncertainty that causes us to see these passages in the bible as being a revelation about God’s character. 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 as being about the very thing we are uncertain about; God’s love. If we fully believe that God is love and we don’t flinch or back away from that, our eyes will be open to what the 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, turn into a teaching about salvation and heaven and hell. Everything they read ends up being translated by their 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.
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. I was convinced that 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 thing you are the most nervous about and the LEAST sure about. If it’s God’s character you haven’t decided upon yet, you’ll read these passages and they’ll appear to be nothing more than a revelation of His Character or lack thereof.
When I decided to hold on to “God is love” and re-read some of these bible verses that recorded incidents that took place in the Old Testament, 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 entirefamily up and we immediately worry for our own safety. If we held to "God is love" we would see that this passage in scripture is giving us a graphic picture of just how horrible and terrible sin is. I think most of us see sin as us doing something wrong. We don’t actually SEE it for what it truly is. We don’t see how terribly destructive, contagious, crippling, and deadly it really is. For a God of love to do these things in the Old Testament it just shows was a serious and deadly disease sin is and how destructive it is to the human race. I have come to she much of the Old Testament as a revelation of sin.
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 for what He was doing. I realize that our Father sees the truth of what was attacking and destroying His children. He knows just how awful the beast of sin really is. For Him to have to do some of the things He did in the Old Testament must have been traumatic for God. This beast of sin is so terrible that it would eventually take the life of God’s Son.
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 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 wouldimmediately make judgments on her mothering skills. Other people, because of the angle they were viewing the incident from, saw the fire. They called her a hero. It all depends on what angle we see things from. When you hold to “God is love”, you position yourself where you can see EVERYTHING from a perfect angle.
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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