Today, a stirring in my soul…seeking specifically a resolution to some of the incongruencies I was taught, which have bothered me from childhood. Maybe it’s because I am teaching this week at Vacation Bible School. The weight of responsibility is heavy on my heart as I present the message of God, the Word of God who is a Person, not a book of instruction. (John 1)
I trusted that those who gave themselves to teaching me the “good news” at VBS had resolved all the issues with which I struggled to understand. I trusted they studied and sometimes had “Dr.” or “Rev” attached to their names. Yet…
When I read the Bible, even as a child, it was so clear to me that Jesus is the exact representation, the fullness of the Father. (Hebrews 1:3) revealed by the Spirit.
How is it then, that western evangelicalism preaches that God can not be in the presence of “sin”.? Even in the Old Testament, we read that God was with Adam, Cain, Noah, Moses, Abraham, David, (all their sins were grievous) and He never abandoned them. If He is “I Am” with us from the beginning and the Trinity is the most stable force in the universe, how is anyone separate or “outside” that union?
I heard it taught to children today…you can’t belong or be in the presence of your Father if you are a sinner – and all have sinned. Oh but he loves you so much he died for you, but you still can’t belong to his family unless you follow the 4 spiritual laws or the ABC’s of salvation, or say a magic prayer that somehow gets you into heaven?
Mercifully, our Bible Story was about the Good Shepherd who left the 99 and went to find the “lost” sheep. So I asked my 3rd graders if the sheep that was lost already belonged to, and was loved by the Shepherd. These children knew intuitively what I have always known in my child-like heart – yes! All the sheep already belonged to the Shepherd before the one was lost! The lost sheep lost sight of the Shepherd. All the sheep needed to do was turn toward (repent) the Shepherd and he would no longer be lost. And when the sheep had gone too far, the Shepherd went after him until he was found.
In the Gospel stories, Jesus loved being with the “sinners” . He did not wait for people to believe in Him, He sought to save those who were already created in Him, for Him and through Him.
Did Jesus condemn anyone for being lost, “missing the mark ”? Did Jesus have to save us from his angry Father? Did God have to beat the hell out of Jesus to pay for our sin so we could be “snow-covered dung” (Jonathan Edwards) Will Jesus be eternally protecting us from the wrath of a Zeus-like monster God?
Or has God always been like Jesus? Is the Ancient of Days perfectly revealed in Jesus as the self-giving, co-suffering God who did not recoil from our sin, but absorbed our sin into Himself – from before the foundation of the world. Could it be that we were found in Jesus before we were ever lost in Adam.
Has the Holy Trinity ever been separated? If God the Father was not “in Christ reconciling the world to Himself,” where was He? Indeed has any molecule in the universe ever existed outside the fellowship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
Finally, can anything in all creation, heaven or earth, can demons, hell or our own rebellion EVER separate us from the love of God in Christ? -(Romans 8.) Does His mercy indeed endure FOREVER? Or does it end on judgment day?
Did God so love the world that He gave His only Son, and whoever believes in Him shall not parish, but have eternal life …and if you don’t or if you never heard this “good news” He will roast you in eternal conscious torment forever? Or worse, will only those predestined to be saved (few are chosen) will be, and the “many” will be damned?
Notice the ancient Hebrew mysterious unspeakable word for God YWH does not allow us to close our lips when we speak His name. God is in our very breath – first and last, always available, always accessible as free as the very air we breathe – to all, always has been, always will be, “I AM with you always”