Thursday, March 5, 2015

It Only Happens When I Think - Part 1

image used under Public Domain license, 
photo from
Ever mess up?  Yup, me too.  As the title says, it only happens when I think. Which is why I did, recently.  And, if you're anything like me, you usually miss that fact initially.  At least some of the time.  Other times recognition of the error is instantaneous. Either way, the first response is to denigrate our self worth for not doing things right in the first place. The next phase is defending what happened, despite knowing it's indefensible. After which, we try to hide it or fix it ourselves. Finally, we give in to the reality that we need help.  And we always do need help. But messing up got me a suggestion to reevaluate my relationship with God and understanding of who He is.  That's always a good thing. Take a look.

The error of my ways was one that several people found disappointing.  I'll just say that I wasn't initially looking at it the same way they did.  But, having recognized the error quickly, the problem was replaced with a more appropriate approach.  However, it did get me thinking about God.  So there was a plus side to that equation.

image used under Creative Commons license,
photo uploaded to Flickr by user Amanda
My first thought about God, every time, is that God has three essential qualities: His perfection, He is just, and He is love. We don't match Him in any of those and never will.  We were born with an inherited Old Sin Nature.  Which reminded me, in comparison, about the nature of sin.  Somehow, being swayed by our own sin nature, we've placed levels of severity on various sins, as if stealing a penny separated us any less than stealing a million dollars.  Or murder is more serious than killing someone's reputation.  We think of some as being like the storm disaster results in our first picture, while others are like the mess  in our second photo.  In reality, with the exception of intentionally leading someone else astray, there's no difference.

Think about the nature of sin.  It doesn't matter what it is, sin will take us away from God.  And that's what God says in the New Testament Greek.  The word for sin is hamartia, which is also a hunting and archery term.  It means to miss the mark.  Picture yourself with a bow and arrow, aiming at a target.  It doesn't matter if you're facing the exact opposite direction from the target when you shoot the arrow or are facing the right way, but the arrow misses by mere fractions of an inch.  Either way, you miss the mark, the target.  Once we realize and acknowledge that, we come back to God's viewpoint.  And that's when things get REALLY interesting.

We mentioned that God is perfect.  We talk about His omni qualities, all knowing, present everywhere, etc.  If we look at other religions, the gods and goddesses all took on human qualities. That made them volatile in any of a number of different ways.  And it meant they had the same faults we do.  A cursory reading of the Old Testament would make it seem like our God was no different.  And nothing could be further from the truth.

When we study the passages by themselves, we see God reigning in a people prone to wrong decisions,  only wiping out their enemies when it was necessary to prevent physical or spiritual harm to the Israelites.  The actions were thought out, not done out of some emotional tantrum.  And we're all familiar with Matthew 22, Mark 12, and Luke 10.

Mark 12:29-31 (KJV)  And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Love God, love each other, in that order.  And we somehow keep that separate from the Old Testament purveyor of fire and brimstone.  But, then, there's:

Deuteronomy 6:5 (KJV)  And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.


Leviticus 19:11-18 (KJV)  Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.  And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.  Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.  Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD.  Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.  Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.  Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.  Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

So much for mean, vindictive, ready to squash everyone like a bug.  Look at Deuteronomy 6:3, which says, "Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey."  Indeed, we see a loving, caring God, directing us toward what's best.  Not a petulant, angry one.

We're forming a pretty interesting picture of our Lord, aren't we?  But, as you may have noted, it has a feeling of being incomplete.  Because it is.  We'll cover more on Saturday.  Till then, what has what we've shared, so far, done for your understanding of God?


  1. Beautiful post, Bill! It is sometimes hard to look at God in the Bible and believe that He is perfect, just and loving. But like a friend of mine said when we were introducing her to the Bible and to a new relationship with God, I can't understand how God could be so patient with Israel and it's people. It's easy to see an angry God but if we look at what people do and what the real consequences of their (our) actions should be, then we can easily see the love.

    1. Exactly. He gives us opportunities beyond opportunities. And Hell is not God's choice for some, they choose separation from God.