I recently heard a couple of comments that really bothered me:
- “I don’t like to read the Old Testament. It’s all about God’s wrath.”
- “Which one is true, the kind, loving Jesus or the mean God of the Old Testament? It can’t be both!”
While the person I’m quoting was patterning her image of God on her abusive earthly father, she pointed out a common belief—that God the Father is primarily an angry person—that while Jesus is our friend and brother, the Father has a big scowl on his face.
Mother’s Day. It started as an effort to reunite the North and South after the Civil War, led in large part by a woman named Ann Reeves Jarvis. She organized picnics and other opportunities for mothers from both sides of the conflict to come together in friendship and peace.
Her daughter, Anna Jarvis, “never had children of her own, but the 1905 death of her own mother inspired her to organize the first Mother’s Day observances in 1908.” Her focus was on appreciating one’s own mother, not mothers in general (hence the careful placement of the apostrophe).*
Sometimes I think that King Solomon must have been familiar with Facebook. I’ve been reading through Proverbs. Solomon may have written down his wisdom thousands of years ago, but it’s anything but out of date. In fact, some proverbs apply more now than ever before.
Today is Good Friday, when the church marks the crucifixion of Jesus. Two days later we celebrate Easter1, Resurrection Sunday, when Jesus rose from the dead. Yet, scripture clearly states that Jesus would rise on the third day.
Does God Have Favorites?
Most Christians would emphatically deny the very thought. We’re brought up to believe that playing favorites is bad. God is good. Ergo, God can’t have favorites.
There are plenty of verses to support this point. Here is a small selection:
- “Then Peter started speaking: “I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism in dealing with people, but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is welcomed before him.” Acts 10:34-35
- “For there is no partiality with God.” Romans 2:11
- “But from those who were influential (whatever they were makes no difference to me; God shows no favoritism between people)—those influential leaders added nothing to my message.” Galatians 2:6
- “Masters, treat your slaves the same way, giving up the use of threats, because you know that both you and they have the same master in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.” Ephesians 6:9
I just read a book that has transformed the way I read the Bible. I think you should read it too.
As a white, North American woman, I have cultural biases—and most of the time I’m not even aware of them. I have a certain way of thinking about time—as a series of consecutive events. I live in a society that places a strong emphasis on individuality. We value efficiency, not procrastination, and leaders over followers. Other cultures view these (and other) things quite differently.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
We all recognize Jeremiah 29:11. We use it to cheer those going through a difficult time. We offer it to new graduates as a sign that their future is bright. When our own circumstances seem bleak, we repeat it to ourselves. God wants me to prosper. This is just a temporary setback.
The problem is, we take this oh-so-encouraging verse out of context and apply it incorrectly. I don’t want to rain on your parade, but misapplying Scripture is never a good idea. When things don’t pan out the way we think they should, we blame God. I know people who have even abandoned their faith altogether because they had expectations that God failed to meet.