There are a lot of perceptions of God as destroyer – and certainly there are plenty of biblical passages to back it up (although usually misinterpreted, or taken out of context). But the perception that God will get us is quite prevalent, and few want anything to do with a God like this in our day. But is God really like this?
If we’re looking at the God Jesus taught about the answer is no. God is not out to destroy us. There are, of course, consequences to our actions – serious ones. Think of the young teen, who, with little self esteem, discovers the wonders of alcohol and drugs. He continues to seek acceptance from others dabbling in the same dangerous activities. Then, drunk, he wanders into the road and gets hit by a car – a drunk driver.
What were these folks doing? Is this God’s fault? Why did the teen have such low self esteem? Did he not know he is a child of God and how valuable he is? Why was he building his foundation on such sandy ground? And why was someone driving drunk? Why didn’t the laws against drunk driving help? We could ask question after question that triggered such events that it would span generations, cultures, and nations.
This little outline depicts people far from what God wants for us. God is not condemning them, or destroying them – they’ve already got that covered. But what is God doing? He’s weeping. In spite of all God’s efforts, the amazing people he’s sent to tell us there is a better way, and the amazing truths that have be put into word and deed, we continually and repeatedly turn from God and do things our way. The consequences of this are far reaching.
As Jesus’ approached Jerusalem, as Israels’ representative, we’re told he wept over it. Why? Why was he weeping? Weeping is excessive isn’t it? Here’s what N.T Wright notes in regards to Jesus arrival to Jerusalem:
…But now the moment has come, and there is no sense of ‘I told you so’ or ‘It serves you right’; only the shaking sobs of the prophet…The terrible judgement that has been pronounced, and will shortly be executed, proceeds not from a stern and cold justice but from a heart of love, that wants the best for, and from, the people, and so must now oppose, with sorrow and tears, the rebellion that has set its own interests and agendas before those of God who has established them there in the first place.
Jesus’ weeping shows us the pain and grief felt by God as we turn away from what’s best for us. Like the grieving parent who mourns the loss of their dead teen, there is no “I told you so,” only weeping.
Repent and receive the good news is not a cliche. It’s a plea from a parent to turn from the path of destruction and to a new way of life with God so we can live life to the fullest.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson