Friday, 19 October 2012

Steadfast Love.

At first we expect God to be a kaleidoscope of colors and flashing lights.
But God, when we encounter Him, is a gentle guiding light and full of love and mercy.
God is kind and trustworthy.
God is gentle.

When we are little children we are innocent and trusting.
But in the playground we are attacked by bullies.
(Bullies are children who are afraid of being bullied.  They defend themselves by attacking children who are weaker than themselves in order to look tough and unassailable.)

Fear begets fear.

So when we encounter God we are surprised that he is not aggressive.
Why doesn't He attack evil and destroy it?
Why doesn't He force them to stop?

But God is non-violent.
He will persevere in a non-violent fashion until we give up and accept His love.

We mistake gentleness for weakness.
We think that violence makes us look strong.
But people who are really strong are gentle.

In the west we have huge armies.
If we were really as peace-loving as we make out we would not need armies.
But we keep them because we really think that we must be more violent and ruthless than others.
Our peace and benevolence is a lie.

So when the ancient prophets encountered God and He revealed His holy name "'a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,'" Exodus 34:6b (NRSV) they tacked on the end "'yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children's children, to the third and fourth generation.'"  Exodus 34:7b (NRSV)  This last statement was later repudiated in Ezekiel 18.

So people attack the weak in order to look strong and invulnerable, so that bigger bullies will not attack them.

Bullies are people who are full of fear.

Big strong men will quake at the sight of a homosexual.  They will run and hide.  They will not consort with them lest people call them poofters.  The terror is too much for them.  They may even become violent.
What they fear is humiliation and rejection.  He would no longer be one of the boys.  He would be cast out and kept at arms length.
Of course this may never happen but the fear is too great.

God has no such fears.
God is gentle and supportive, steadfast in love.

(Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.)

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