Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thoughtful About . . . A God Who Loves



As so typically happens, I've been letting ideas simmer in the back of my mind that combine my current Bible reading, things I've been reading to my kids, and conversations and sermons from church. I love when all these lines cross and combine to lead me to a knew understanding of our Lord.

So at the beginning of summer, I decided I'd break out a new Bible I've had sitting there for a couple years--one I requested for my birthday along with another. And I've requested another since. (What, some people only have one??) This one is called the So That's Why! Bible, and it's a chronological (which is how I found it, when searching for those) Bible that is full of cultural and historical notes--my kind of footnote!

I'm nearly finished Exodus in this Bible now, and going through those early history sections has been so educational, with all the cross-cultural highlights and notes the book provides. Genesis especially is rich in stories from other cultures that bear a resemblance to the ones shared in that first book of the Bible, and it's hammered home something so important to me.

In all these other stories, you have the same basic kernels--the ones that long ago convinced me they're telling the same stories, just that they'd been twisted over the centuries. That they took that basic understanding of what happened and then changed things here and there. But no matter how similar some of these stories--the many flood tales, Gilgamesh, etc.--are on the surface, there's one very key difference between how others cultures told the tales and how the Bible does. And the difference is this:

God loves us.

In all the other ancient societies, the gods are to be feared. They are to be placated. They are not understood. They crave human blood and sacrifice, and they delight in tormenting mere mortals, or playing with them for their own entertainment.

Our God is so very different. Our God shows his love to humanity. He seeks to show us the pure way, the righteous way, the best way. Our God demonstrates mercy, and even punishment is handed down not because He takes joy in our suffering, but because discipline is a necessary part of discipleship--a part of teaching and learning.

As I read through Genesis this time, I had just recently read some arguments by Christians who are of the mind that this book of the Bible isn't supposed to be treated as fact, necessarily, but rather as a redefinition for the ancient world of how God really worked through these well-known tales. Now, I'm not making the above argument. I'm merely saying that as I went through Genesis this time, it was with the question of, "How is God teaching His people about Himself through these stories?"

And the answer is what I said above: God loves us.

In church, we've been reading Matthew, and my husband asked the question last weekend of "What 'gospel' was Jesus preaching? Today, our 'gospel' includes the news of His death and resurrection, but that wasn't a part of his actual teachings to the masses yet, right? So what was this good news? And why was it always accompanied by healing and miracles?"

My answer: God loves us.

This was the awe-inspiring, amazing, unheard-of message that Jesus was preaching. That He was inviting everyone to see anew in the Scriptures of old. This is the whole reason He came, and the reason He spent so much of his time demonstrating God's love rather than His authority or dominion. Our Messiah didn't come to conquer nations--He came to show the heart of the Father to the people.

In our homeschool, I've been reading a little book to the kids called But Don't All Religions Lead to God? by Dr. Michael Green. It's a short book, but it's packed full with wonderful information on what sets Christianity apart from all the other religions in the world. And the main thing?

God loves us.

No other religion, no other faith, seeks to demonstrate this. None other offers a means for closing the gap between man and God. No other says, "It's not what you do--it's what God's done."

God loves us.

We know it, and we say it so many times. But how often do we really pause to examine the miracle in the statement? That unlike every other god worshiped in ancient days, unlike every other lifestyle or religion prevalent today, ours has not only a Creator, but a Father.

Thank you, Lord, for loving us so much. It makes all the difference.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this message today. Moving has been stressful and your post arrived at just the right time. God loves us. Yes, He does love us and His love gives me great comfort. :-)

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  2. Thank you for this beautiful message! It's so easy to get lost in the rest of life and Christianity, and forget the reason our religion matters so much in the first place: the simple fact that God is love and no matter how flawed or wrong or evil we are, He still extends that love to us.

    Thanks again for the lovely post. :)


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com
    verbosityreviews.com

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