I grew up never really liking God. I mean I knew He loved me in a theoretical sense but hardly ever felt a nice warm and fuzzy feeling inside like I thought I should. He just felt too distant and someone to be weary of.
Much of this has to do with the view I had of myself. Occasionally I would get this overwhelming sense of loneliness and unworthiness. There are many reasons for this and many that I may still need to discover but I am convinced that one major factor is the view I had of God from church.
Now when I say church I don’t mean just my home church, but Christians, books I read, the way I was taught to read the Bible and what I was just simply told God was like by the people I thought knew.
But as I have grown older and into my adulthood I am convinced that a lot of what I thought was true about God was well, simply lacking in something. And sure yeah we may never fully know God but I couldn’t help but think I was being shortchanged.
Now back to how I viewed myself. From the very start we’re told that humans as a thing, we are essentially fuck ups. We don’t really need to look into our past too far to see that but if we did we would see the millions of ways that we have made a mess of everything. From slavery, racism, murder all the way to the Hangover Part 3. We mess up something good and ruin it.
That being said we also have the potential and ability to do well. History tells us this too. From the people who have devoted their lives to ending slavery, from human rights changes in how we see people of a different skin colour to ourselves all the way to ‘This is Spinal Tap.’ We can succeed and we can create beauty.
We have been told that as humans we don’t deserve God’s love. Yet he gives it freely anyway. We have been taught that because of Adam and Eve we all are deserving of death. Is this true? Am I born to fail and need rescuing? Am I doomed?
Well in a sense I think yes we are. But not for the reasons we have been taught.
Is it that Adam and Eve sinned once and now everyone else has to take part of the blame? Is that the story we have to believe? I mean they ate an apple. Apple’s are good for you. It wasn’t a chocolate tree or a pasta tree or a tree made of food from McDonalds. It was a fruit tree. Fruit is good for you.
Or is the story that I am indeed Adam and Eve? That everyday I make terribly bad decisions that ruin my life. That one day I can sit with a friend in their deepest hurt and the next talk about them behind their back.
I do believe we need saved. I do believe we are messed up. But I’m convinced that sooner or later it would happen not because of Adam and Eve but because of mel. And you.
God therefore doesn’t become this invisible control freak who designed it so if one person fucked it up the rest of us had to suffer. No God designed it so that we are free. Free to choose and free to ignore. Free to live life or free to destroy it. Which sadly means that what we do can either build up the people we live with or simply tear them apart. But when we do and we will.
He still loves us.
Adam and Eve didn’t die. Sure things maybe didn’t work out like they would have liked but God didn’t desert them. He provided security and safety for them. Their son who went on to kill his own brother ended up being kept safe by God. Isaac who tricked his father and stole from his brother ended up being the head of God’s chosen people. The Israelite people once held as slaves to build an Egyptian Empire turned round in their new found freedom and used slaves to build the new Temple. David who murdered, cheated, lusted and ruined the lives of many close to him became a great man who just happens to be in the same lineage as Jesus. Peter who pretended he didn’t even know Jesus would become one of the great church fathers. And Paul who was so consumed with hate for Christians that he made his life’s purpose to murder everyone of them went on to be the greatest theologian that has ever lived.
I could go on and on.
God is not hell bent on waiting for us to die so that he can punish us. He isn’t a control freak who needs us to sin to feel good about Himself. He isn’t trying to hide stuff from us. He isn’t making sure that we stay in line. He doesn’t hate you. He doesn’t secretly enjoy our pain. He won’t give up on you. He doesn’t get irritated at you when you sin. That’s when He loves you the most.
Some people will tell you otherwise.
But when God created the world he did it allowing us to screw everything up. Because He knew that was freedom. He knew that if we weren’t able to think for ourselves that would just be a puppeteer and his puppets. And that is not love. That is not who we are. And that is not who God is.
This doesn’t mean that God is apart from us letting us run amuck. He sits with us in the pain and he celebrates with us in the joy. It means that he enters into life with us fully, partnering with us even when we screw it all up.
Which we do everyday.
Which if you think about it, is a lot worse than eating an apple.