A friend told me this week of his sadness about one of his friends—in particular, the picture of God she seems to have. She pictures God, he says, as an angry, easy-to-displease Being—someone who is supposed to love her, but she’s not at all sure God does. She worries about God’s opinion of her. She believes God has a life plan for her—but she doesn’t know what that plan is, and so she frets and prays to discover it. Consequently, she has a difficult time being happy and enjoying life.
This isn’t God’s fault. I would aver that it is the fault of a particular type of religion which has emphasized the punitive God over the character of Jesus. It should be enough that we need comfort in the face of the world’s inevitable tragedies and temptations and disappointments. But it seems many of us also need to be healed of faulty religion!
It’s logical, I suppose, that we would misunderstand God. We can hardly understand one another—people who we know and speak with in real life. How much easier it is to misunderstand God, especially if we see God in the light of a few selected stories from the Old Testament or the apocalyptic books!
We need to be reminded that a Christian sees God in the person of Jesus. Jesus said that He is what God is like. I hope you will forgive me if I admit that I simply don’t trust those Bible passages that describe God as angry, hurtful, rejoicing in the death of sinners. I don’t know why there are so many of those stories in the Old Testament and apocalyptic books, but the Gospel writers tell of quite a different God: God is One who values freedom and joy, peace of mind, and confidence in salvation.
My desire is that Adventist Today can be part of healing people from bad understandings of God by directing our minds back to Jesus.
Loren Seibold, AT Executive Editor
13 January 2024
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