The Bible Says No, and Obnoxious Christians
I understand. You don’t see why people shouldn’t be allowed to have sex before getting married. And there’s plenty of other restrictions in the Bible that don’t make sense to you either. And that Christian guy you know who prays that God will help him beat the next level of Candy Crush, and the Christian lady who has the bumper sticker that says, “After the rapture, you’ll wish your car had a Christian bumper sticker,” well–they are really obnoxious about what the Bible says not to do. And there’s no logic to some of it. It doesn’t make sense. It’s just too restrictive.
What if God Thinks Like This?
I understand. Some things about Christianity don’t make sense to me either. But have you ever considered the question: What if God thinks differently than we do? What if God doesn’t just want us to exist, but He wants us to flourish? What if God’s love is all about humanity not just surviving but thriving, at the best possible level?
When the Pharisees and lawyers were grilling Jesus he talked about love. He said God was all about love. When the lawyer asked him which is the greatest commandment in the Bible, Jesus said it was love. Love God with everything you have, and love other people. That’s it. So what if God’s love is all about human flourishing? Human flourishing at the best possible level? That could explain a lot.
For a fruit tree to flourish it has to be pruned. I don’t know what that’s like, but I’m guessing if I were a fruit tree I wouldn’t like someone coming along and lopping off my branches.
For a human being to flourish the dentist might have to drill into her teeth. It’s painful, she doesn’t like it, but that’s what it takes for her to flourish.
For me to flourish the doctor had to saw my sternum in half, insert a spreader, and crank open my chest so he could do heart surgery. I can tell you that on a certain level of my humanity, I didn’t want the doctor imposing his treatment on my body. “It’s my body. Just leave it alone. Mind your own business doc.” At a certain level, that’s what was going through my head. But in order for me to flourish, it was necessary.
For your kids to flourish you make them do all kinds of things they don’t want to do. You don’t let them eat certain things they want to eat. And you make them eat certain other things they don’t want to eat. You make them do chores. They want to do their own thing, but you often insist they do it your way. It makes you unpopular with the kid, or kids, but you impose these things on them because you’re preparing them for adulthood. You want them to flourish. You do it out of love.
Because real love doesn’t mean self gratification or doing what will make us feel good, it means doing what’s best for others, even when it’s awkward, or unpopular, or even painful.
What if You Were the God of the Universe?
So this is another way to think–to go beyond your own human reasoning and think about how God might think. Imagine for a minute, that you are God. You’re the one who created giant wild running stars that produce bow waves trillions of kilometers across, like the one in the Hubble Telescope image at the top of this post. You’re the one who created all the bodies of all the humans, each one with its 37.2 trillion cells and its 11 interdependent systems. You’re the one who created the Aurora Borealis phenomenon, and the Grand Canyon, and the harbor of Rio de Janeiro. And it’s your responsibility to do whatever is best for your “kids” on earth, the ones created in your image. Whether they want you to or not. Given the enormous disparity between your capability as God, and the capability of your human “kids” on earth, might there be more than a few things those kids don’t understand?
One of the best things I ever created was a house I built (with a lot of help from friends and family) on the side of a hill in the Rogue Valley, in Oregon. When I drive by, I think it’s pretty special. But when I think about what God has created, it just doesn’t compare. Given the enormous disparity between my capability and God’s, who am I to decide what’s good for human flourishing and what’s bad?
Given the enormous disparity between my capability and God’s, it’s not even logical that I would find God’s ways logical.
What makes the most sense is to leave as much as I can up to Him.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Jesus Christ, Matthew 22:36-40
God is love.
[Image via Hubble Heritage – Creative Commons]
Timothy Keller, The Reason for God