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.
Think of the words we use to describe God—holy, omnipotent, faithful, loving, and so forth. We’ve all seen the lists and heard the sermons. The whole business of describing God seems so serious. We should show our respect, after all. But how often do we think of God as having a sense of humor? Does God ever laugh? Is God… fun?
If we’re truly made in the image of God—and the Bible tells us that we are—then our ability to laugh implies that He laughs too. So why don’t we ever talk about this aspect of His personality?
We’ve all been asked to pray for various things. Please pray for my sister, she’s going through a hard time. Please pray for me, I have an important decision to make. Please pray, my husband lost his job. And when someone asks us to pray, we feel compelled to say yes. After all, the Bible is full of examples—both exhortations to pray for each other and examples of those prayers. Prayer is an excellent way we can demonstrate our love for people, fulfilling God’s commandment to love one another as ourselves. Jesus clearly tells us to share our prayer requests:
Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:19-20)
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
As I mentioned last week, a sermon at church has me thinking a lot about the doctrine of the rapture. Whenever any church controversy arises, my first response is to see what God has to say about it. I started by rereading Revelation, specifically noticing the many references to believers living in the time of the Great Tribulation. There were many—see Revelation 6:11, 7:3, 7:9-15, 11:1-12, 12:17, 14:12-13, and 20:4-6. I also looked for verses about God taking the church out of the world before or during the tribulation. I couldn’t find any.
Our pastor said something the other day that really shocked me. We were in the middle of a sermon series on the book of Mark and we had reached chapter 13, about the second coming of Christ. As usual, Brady’s excellent sermon focused on the Biblical text. But before he began, he mentioned his personal position on the rapture—He doesn’t believe in it.
I was astonished. The vast majority of evangelical Christians side with authors Jim Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, and their Left Behind series, and believe that at any moment the faithful here on earth will be suddenly caught up to heaven. I’ve always felt like a bit of an apostate, since I’m not so sure I agree. I usually tell people who ask that I’m preparing to to still be here during the hard times to come, but I’d be more than happy to be excused.
- “No, I haven’t prayed about this—it isn’t that important, after all.”
- “I don’t want to bother God.”
- “I’m sure God has more important things to take care of than my little problem.”
Have you ever heard someone say any of these things? Have you?
As finite human beings, it is difficult for us to conceive of an all-powerful, omniscient God. We get overwhelmed—people constantly make demands on us, our calendars are full, and we just don’t have the time or energy to deal with every little issue that comes up. Moreover, when we’re so swamped ourselves, we have a hard time caring about the minutia of other peoples’ lives. Let them deal with their own problems—we have enough of our own.