Thank you so much for the lovely card at Thanksgiving. My Grandmother tells me to say Hi for her. You were always her favorite of my friends growing up.
I had meant to send this letter off to you earlier, but I have been a bit under the weather. Between my cold and all the turkey I am amazed I remembered to breath. I seemed to have missed something however, this past week. Without my noticing it appears Christmas lights have gone up all over! Can you believe it is already December? This year has gone by at warp speed! I feel like I have lived a decade in the past twelve months. I tell you the truth though; I could swear I saw Valentine’s day candy at the grocery store.
I had dinner with Eric the other night. He is here and there and everywhere right now. Amidst work, family and his travels we decided to meet up before the year changed. Our friendship has changed drastically. I am not sure you would recognize us if you saw us together. Like you, he has a hard time understanding my ‘conversion’ to Christianity. “God is so angry” he told me, “all that killing. How do you believe that?”
With great ease, I wanted to reply. But it is not easy, at least not right away. It takes time and reading to understand. Like Eric, I remember feeling that way about the Old Testament. I mean what is with the God of the Old Testament. He wants to punish and kill everyone. Right?
The thing is this; you have to read the Old Testament to understand. God wants nothing more than reconciliation. He wants His children to return, trust, and love Him. Your mother and father want the same thing. God doesn’t want to force it though, He wants it el naturel. He allows us to choose it.
So how does a loving God punish His people by destroying them? Well I think it is important to understand what those people were doing. They were sinning.
Okay, here is where I am going to go off the beaten track of mainstream Christianity. I say this because every one of the preachers I have met says ‘there is no hierarchy of sin- it is all offensive to God.’ I am not disputing that. BUT let’s look at what that sin was. We are not talking about of gossips, or people telling little white lies. We are talking about a group of people who were worshiping fake gods and idols.
What the harm in that? Why is God so jealous especially if they are not real? Must be an egomaniac right?
Well what if I told you that to worship those fake gods involved cannibalism; and not just cannibalism but eating the flesh of unborn babies. What If that worship called for you to burn your children to death by fire, or bake them in metal statues? What if it meant that you had to prostitute you children out to the temple priests? Religious induced rape and incest?
I have heard people say that Hitler was going straight to hell. I have heard people call Saddam Hussein the devil and call for the execution of Charles Manson. That is to say nothing of the Son of Sam, Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy. Can you imagine a city where that is the norm. Where behavior such as theirs is not only accepted but endorsed, honored and praised? Can you imagine being a Child in Israel in that time?
If humanity can agree that this is indefensible, then why would we expect less of God the Father? Why then is his anger unjustifiable and irrational?
I wanted to share this bit of scripture with you. It is from Jeremiah. A man God used to a prophet to tell the people to repent their ways, to stop their horrid practices. (See Rory, even when He is rebuking them, God wants his people. He does not simply throw them away. )
31 They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire—something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind. – Jeremiah 7:31
I know it will sound silly, but this verse filled me with such love! It didn’t enter His mind! It was not something He wanted. It was not a thought He had for us. Somehow that piece of scripture transformed God the angry to God the forever loving and caring. God will rise up against us. God will defend his children. He loves us. He wants nothing more than our reconciliation.