Sunday, May 31, 2009

You Got Your Peanut Butter God in My Chocolate God!

As is my normal Sunday morning routine, I read the comics. Something just jumped out at me when reading Doonesbury. Now, if you know me, you know I don't fit very well into the stereotype that evangelical Christians are conservative Republicans. So, I'm not especially bothered by quips at the expense of the previous administration. But, it does irk me when someone continues a misconception about Scripture.
Whenever you read from the Old Testament, God is always crabby and snarky to everyone... but the New Testament isn't about anger at all -- it's about love.
Now I know the point of this was to make a (rather amusing) jab at the banking industry, so I excuse them (especially since they never claim to be knowledgeable on the Bible). But to show how wrong they are, here are a few passage of Scripture, for you to guess OT or NT:
Doom to you, Chorazin! Doom, Bethsaida! If Tyre and Sidon had seen half of the powerful miracles you have seen, they would have been on their knees in a minute. At Judgment Day they'll get off easy compared to you.
Snakes! Reptilian sneaks! Do you think you can worm your way out of this? Never have to pay the piper? It's on account of people like you that I send prophets and wise guides and scholars generation after generation—and generation after generation you treat them like dirt, greeting them with lynch mobs, hounding them with abuse. You can't squirm out of this: Every drop of righteous blood ever spilled on this earth, beginning with the blood of that good man Abel right down to the blood of Zechariah, Barachiah's son, whom you murdered at his prayers, is on your head. All this, I'm telling you, is coming down on you, on your generation.
I'll sing a ballad to the one I love, a love ballad about his vineyard: The one I love had a vineyard, a fine, well-placed vineyard. He hoed the soil and pulled the weeds, and planted the very best vines. He built a lookout, built a winepress, a vineyard to be proud of. He looked for a vintage yield of grapes, but for all his pains he got junk grapes.
And now, here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to start all over again. I'm taking her back out into the wilderness where we had our first date, and I'll court her. I'll give her bouquets of roses. I'll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope. She'll respond like she did as a young girl, those days when she was fresh out of Egypt.
And then I'll marry you for good—forever! I'll marry you true and proper, in love and tenderness. Yes, I'll marry you and neither leave you nor let you go. You'll know me, God, for who I really am.
So, as you probably guessed, the fire-and-brimstone quotes are from Jesus himself (Matthew 11:23-24, Matthew 23:33-36) and the love passages are from Old Testament prophets speaking for God (Isaiah 5:1-2, Hosea 2:14-15, 19-20). [All from The Message translation, so us NIV readers won't instinctively know who's saying it.]

So, what's up with this anger-and-love God? Does he have a split personality? Is it a good cop-bad cop ploy to get us to follow him? Yeah, maybe. But I think the real answer is he isn't a God who spreads a sanitized love around. He's a passionate God who wants to be our Lover. So, he does try to woo us, but he also does rightly get upset when we:
  1. Cheat on him with other loves, be it golden calves or other primary interests.
  2. Treat other parts of his bride (i.e. other people) with contempt.
  3. Try to keep his bride from finding him.
As a husband, I know I'm be ready to explode if any of those things happened in my marriage. And I'm sure my wife would feel the same way. But in our culture that sees God as distant, it's easy to forget how intimate He wants to be with us.

I just discovered a hilarious and ironic twist to this comic. The quote they start with to make the point:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven
Well, that's actually Romans 1:18, from the New Testament.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I saw the title I thought Reeses Peanut Cup? I also read Doonesbury that morning and I got a good laugh from it, but I did think much about it. Thanks for the reminder about how intimate God wants to be with us.