keeping your head low and going on

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time on and forevermore.

Psalm 131

I would like to delve into the dark, heretical waters of fire and brimstone from an angry God who took out that anger on the Son. All of that heresy. And I appreciate those who work through matters like that. That God is a God of justice and mercy is definitely true, and comes out of the reality of the truth that God is love.

Instead, I need to keep my head down and go on. Praying for myself and others. Seeking to live in God’s will along with others. Calming myself down when need be through the calm that can come only from God by faith through Jesus by the Spirit. And maybe along the way, maybe not, but maybe God will give me a word to help correct falsehood. But above all, that they would see the kindness and deep love of God at work in and even through our lives. In and through Jesus.

is God a God of wrath, or a God of love?

…God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:8b-10

There’s no escape from God’s wrath in Scripture. At times it seems pretty alarming, even all-consuming. Is the retributive justice that most Christians I know seem to accept, a rather “tit for tat,” or as Jesus reminds us, “eye for eye, and tooth for tooth” a part of God’s justice at work in the world, and in the end? Is there an aspect of God’s justice which is restorative? That seems obvious too, when you consider God’s judgment in Scripture with what seems to be the end goal of blessing those God judges. Could both be at work in God’s justice: retributive and restorative? And what does this have to do with God’s wrath and love? (These questions and my wondering moved by this interesting podcast.)

It seems to me that the standard position has been that it’s both. I take it that whatever wrath comes from God is always an expression of God’s love. When love for God manifested in love for neighbor is violated, judgment always come. I take it as at least primarily God honoring humans and human will, and letting us suffer the consequences of our bad decisions. But at the same time, always offering grace to us in Jesus.

I also believe that God’s love is supremely revealed on the cross, Jesus hanging there. Of course the resurrection essential in that love being poured out on all who have faith in Jesus, and ultimately on all creation in the new creation.

So is God a God of wrath, or of love? We could look at Scripture and without hesitation say both, but I think that’s a mistake. God is in essence love, and whatever wrath and judgment come from God is always and forever an expression of that love. I take it that God is not into retributive justice at all, but only restorative justice.

What’s at stake here? It seems to me right now that how we view God, who we think God is, the most important point for us is at stake here. As was said in the podcast (and other thoughts here gathered from that; click above link to listen to it, quite worth the time), we either see God as one who was angry with us, takes that anger out on the Son, and therefore now can pour out love on us. Or we see God as love through and through, and doing everything out of love, including taking human wrath on God’s Self at the cross in the Son. And turning that into complete forgiveness for all who put their faith in, trust in the Son, in God and that good news in Jesus.

Theology and biblical interpretation are important, but not God’s word in themselves. May God’s word break through to us in Jesus, and transform our understanding, and in so doing change us into the image of Christ. Where love has full sway and directs all things. May God’s love become more and more not only understood, but experienced by us, so that we might help others to become aware of that same love. In and through Jesus.

no, don’t give up. pray and pray and…

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Luke 18:1-8

I think Jesus wanted to inculcate into his disciples a passion to pray, and at least the bent to practice it regularly. Luke’s gospel account emphasizes prayer more than the other gospels, and we find Jesus praying there more often. As far as what we actually do, I don’t think there’s anything the Lord wants us to do more than to pray.

Prayer is about dependence on God, as well as relationship to God. And it’s about getting the help we desperately need in this world. Interesting that in this parable, Jesus likens the one who prays to the widow pleading for justice in an unjust world. And how she doesn’t give up. The Lord compares that to us needing to cry out to the One who is full of justice and mercy and wants us to ask, and even more, wants to answer.

Yet the Lord makes the sad remark at the end that he is wondering just the same if when he returns there will be any faith on earth. Will people be asking to this more than generous, even eager God?

A good challenge to me and encouragement, when I’m discouraged even to the point when my prayers don’t seem to matter. That’s a lie from the pit. Yes, they do. So we need to keep doing it. Pray and keep on praying and don’t quit doing that.

In and through Jesus.