A girl I know brought a guy that I kinda know to church on Sunday. I say that I only kinda know him, because he’s a bartender at the resort I work at and we’ve had conversations, but I’ve heard a lot more about him that may or may not be true. We get along and he’s funny, and I’m not going to have a problem with him that he didn’t give me himself. I do my best not to judge people by what I hear about them.
Anyway, I was in the sound booth and they both came over to say hi and he said to me, “I’m surprised that I’m still alive, walking in here. I thought I would have caught on fire.” And then he looked up and said, “Please don’t kill me!” As if he was talking to God.
After he walked away I started thinking about where this way of thinking came from. Why do people who don’t know God immediately go to the idea that he is angry and a smiter and a killer. In the movie Bruce Almighty, Bruce calls out to God and says, “Smite me, Oh mighty smiter!” But God doesn’t smite people, at least not often. Sure there are a few stories, like Sodom and Gomorrah and Ananias and Sapphira, but those are not God’s main characteristics.
And then I think about the famous Christians; the ones that think they speak for all of us. They tell people that if they don’t change their ways, then they will burn in hell. That is their opening line. They carry signs that say “God hates gays.” But God is love. How did we forget that? 1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” I mean, come on! It’s right there!
God forgives. He is a God of mercy, even if we don’t deserve it. All he wants is relationship with us. He made us because he loves us. And he didn’t destroy us after the first sin in the garden because he loves us. He could have ended it all and started again. I think I would have.
Why don’t more people know the story of the woman that the Pharisees brought to Jesus, the one that they caught in the act of adultery? He did not condemn her. Instead, he bent down and wrote in the sand. We don’t know what he wrote; all we know is that all of Pharisees left after Jesus told them that whoever had no sin could cast the first stone. He asked the woman where her condemners went, and then told her that he also does not condemn her. Then he said, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” That’s all in John 8:3-11.
Jesus was one to forgive sins. And once sins were forgiven, people changed. If you’re willing to change, why would he condemn you? God loved first. He gives us so many chances to get things right. So why don’t people know this? It’s not funny. I have so many thoughts and not enough time to put them all down, but does this make sense?
I think it might be time to rid the earth of the image of God as an evil killer who destroys those who don’t obey him. He is a good Father, the best Father. He works with us and forgives us. Sometimes he punishes us, but only to push us in the right direction, and never out of spite. He is not spiteful. And he is not a regular smiter.