who is god?
We are in the midst of uncertain times. Fear is running rampant. Maybe you’re hearing messages that this is some kind of judgment from God. Let me assure you God is not angry.
I’ve been living in a season of uncertainty for the past year with lost jobs, my religious beliefs unraveling, and my parenting going through a radical change. This crisis is just part of life for me. Everything I thought I knew is crumbling.
I like a clear plan, lists that work out, and faith that never doubts. I am asking audacious questions about everything. Some believe my questions are dangerous. We wrestle with God and blessings follow.
The Creator and I have undergone an unexpected journey. I want to know who God really is, not who I’ve been taught He is. What about this God? What about that? This verse doesn’t align with who you say you are. Can you help me understand? I wait, sometimes for weeks on end for the answer. In the quiet of the chair where I rock my youngest to sleep, the answers come with beautiful clarity.
With a heart wide open, and fists unclenched, I receive and believe whatever Love wants to show me. My faith is bigger, more robust, and stronger than ever.
Fear has kept me silent. Not any longer. It’s not easy unraveling the long-held beliefs of an institution. Questions make people nervous.
a fresh perspective
It started in the garden with a revelation. God and I had to go all the way back to the beginning to reconstruct a faith that had become head knowledge, logic, and rules to follow. Joy-filled tears sting my eyes. The verse that illuminates on the page is this…
Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings have become like us: knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!” So the Lord God banished them from the garden.
I opened all twenty Bibles in our home. Every damn one of them used the words punishment and judgment. Footnotes in study Bibles repeatedly stated that God was punishing Adam and Eve. This was not God punishing them. It was God’s protection. He was protecting us from living in a state of shame and perceived separation from Him.
Punish: to inflict a penalty for the commission of an offense in retribution or retaliation. To deal with roughly or harshly. To hurt or harm.
Definition in Hebrew: to visit (with friendly or hostile intent) to oversee, muster, charge, care for, deposit.
The Hebrew definition implies care, concern and most importantly Presence. No matter what we do God will be with us, will visit us, and make His love known to us!
god’s justice restores never punishes
God’s justice restores. It’s not vengeful and retributive. We enter onto a very slippery slope in believing the God of Love as punishment and wrath. “Disobey me and I will make you pay.” is essentially what this view of God brings us to.
I’m heartbroken over the way we have interpreted the scriptures. I am pissed off about the way we have weaponized what was meant to be a love letter between the Creator and His Creation.
“Well God, if you don’t punish, then what do you do? The scriptures say You discipline those You love, which led me to one of the most abusive and misused verses in the Bible…”
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him.
How many children have suffered in the hands of parents who have been poisoned to believe that if you don’t spank your children you will spoil them? There was a very influential Christian teacher that taught pain is a good teacher. Your children will only learn to obey through causing them pain. Sadly, I used to believe this abhorrent lie. The word discipline means to gently teach and instruct, not terrorize into submission. The rod is an instrument of comfort!
Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me.
One question led to another then another. What else are we be misinterpreting?
I remembered the God who saves. God never punished me, even when my life was steeped in darkness.
He bent closer… closer… closer still.
God led me out of the darkness with chords of kindness and love, not fear.
reconstructing a more beautiful way
I am not alone. There are others just like me, going through a messy transformation. In the time of Jesus, those who knew the scriptures and traditions best missed the very God that stood right in their midst.
The biggest question of all still remains… If there is no wrath in you, God, what does the cross mean? Its been a year and a half since I started this process, but one major question still hangs in the space between us and Brad Jersak provides the simplest answer to understand in his book A More Christlike Way. There is more than one way to interpret the cross. It doesn’t mean that God needed someone to punish for sin so Jesus offered Himself on our behalf.
Was the cross God’s idea or ours? Could it be that it was man’s wrath poured out on God instead of God’s wrath poured out on us?
What if… Jesus submitted Himself to all our anger, wrath, and our hatred… and turned the most excruciating torture devise into the very thing that would heal our anger, wrath, and hatred? What if the cross was never a loving God’s idea, but ours instead? Have we created a wrathful god in our own image? We cry out for justice for those who have hurt us. We’re desperate to feel that someone bigger than us will right all our wrongs, and understandably so.
There are days when I wish I could go back to the simplicity of taking scriptures literally. The Bible said it, I believe it, that’s the end of it mentality.
an evolving faith
Here are a couple of questions to stimulate your own imagination.
Is your faith leading you toward a God of rules, religion, or a false sense of righteousness? I follow God’s laws so His favor rests upon me. Try telling that to Job.
Are you free or is part of you still striving for perfection?
Whoever we believe God to be, is who we become. If He is the God of love, mercy, and forgiveness then we become those things as well. If He is a God of punishment, judgment, and wrath, well you know the rest.
We view every scripture through the lens of Jesus. Wrath did not hang from that cross. Love did.
In these terribly uncertain times, we can trust that God turns painstaking situations into the very thing that blesses, nurtures, and saves. This plague-like crisis is not God’s judgment. Love has not abandoned us.
I hope this opens a door to ask your own questions. If you find yourself wandering in the wilderness of uncertainty your doubts and questions are welcome. You can also find out more about deconstructing your faith and rebuilding from a new foundation here.