is God vengeful?

Category : faith

The story of Abraham and Isaac is difficult for us to understand.  It’s shocking.  It’s offensive.  And for many of us, it confirms our view that the Old Testament God was mean and wrathful.  But is that really the case?  Is that really the message God is sending with this story?

I don’t believe God ever intended to take Isaac’s life.  He didn’t change his mind half way, or wimp out.  He intended to teach Abraham the He is loving and merciful, but it also requires submitting everything to following Him.  Those lessons hold true to us.  But we need to look at the Old Testament through the lens of Jesus.  And that means we get one more message to take away.  God never intended to take the life of a child.  Instead God wants us to understand that he will go where he won’t even call us to go.  God wants us to see that he’s a God who sacrifices for his people.  That he’s willing to pay a cost that very few of us would dream of paying.

God would never sacrifice a child.  But he’ll sacrifice himself.

Does that sound like an angry, vengeful, merciless God to you?  Or does it sound like a God who loves us more than we can even understand?

photo provided by flickr user CP Storm

quote of the day: Dietrich Bonhoeffer – forgiveness

Category : God, faith, live for the eternal, living a life of faith, love, taking action

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship wrote:

“Through the medium of prayer we go to our enemy, stand by his side, and plead for him to God.  Jesus does not promise that when we bless our enemies and do good to them they will not despitefully use and persecute us.  They certainly will.  But not even that can hurt or overcome us, so long as we pray for them….We are doing vicariously for them what they cannot do for themselves.”

what i’m watching: Cloverfield

Category : Jesus, barbarian, faith, feeding my brain

       

Some movies stick with you.  They make you think long after you’ve seen the ending.  That’s how it is with Cloverfield. It seems strange that a monster movie would have such a strong impact on me.  But I can’t stop thinking about it. As with any good movie it makes you think about your own life.

Before I go any further I want to warn people that there may be some spoilers here.  So if you don’t want to know anything about this movie, then you might want to skip this post.

Okay, now we can move on.  After watching Cloverfield I was left thinking about a few things.

1.  The movie involved sacrifice.  Not in the traditional Hollywood way.  The characters you saw in the movie weren’t action heroes, they were ordinary people.  But they chose to stick together and try and save a friend – even thought it may cost them their lives (and even though most of them didn’t want to go).  There was something intense about that.

When I watch Arnold Schwarzenegger or Chuck Norris I know they are going to survive.  After all they’re the Terminator or Walker Texas Ranger.  But an ordinary person?  That has “monster food” written all over it.

As I watched them roam around an abandoned, monster infested New York, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “would I have been willing to do that for someone?”  I would like to think so, but to be honest, I have no idea.  And I think if I’m really honest…I probably wouldn’t.

How hard must it be to know you’re going to die, but still act?

That’s one of the things that strikes me about Jesus.  He knew exactly what he was going to do.  He knew that by following his path he would die.  And he knew better than any of us, exactly what that would mean.  And yet he still did it.  He still went through with it, suffering one of most painful ways to die.

Cloverfield reminds me that I don’t think about that sacrifice enough.  I don’t consider what that cost God, especially when I’m busy being selfish and needy.

2. We don’t have much time to act.  Cloverfield opens up with a group of friends and family celebrating.  It’s just a bunch of people who are living out an ordinary day.  But their lives were destroyed and they never saw it coming.  I think this is the most shocking aspect of the whole movie.  We simply don’t know when tragedy will strike, and by the time we realize it, it’s probably too late.

No one believed a 500 foot tall monster would go on a rampage in NYC.  Just like we never believe we’ll die in a car accident, or of a heart attack.  Characters in that movie said and did things because they thought they had time to make it right later.  But they didn’t.  And that regret ate at them.

There’s something insidious about that thought process.  Because sometimes death really is a long way off, and we never act because we procrastinate.  We assume that because we have all the time in the world we’ll use that time to make things right.  But so often we don’t.

Cloverfield manages to catch both sides of that thought.  And it haunts me.

God calls us to take action, and almost always it’s to act now.  Very rarely does God ever ask someone to act in the distant future; when God asks us to do something it’s to fill an immediate need.

I don’t want to leave this world knowing that I never got around to doing something God asked of me.  Just like I don’t want to live my life for word counts and blogs, I also don’t want to live a life that is empty of accomplishments for the Kingdom.  I want to be able to look back and say, “Yes.  I seized those divine moments.”

Tomorrow is that day that may never come.  So I choose to embrace today.