They say that you're a monster. They say that you're a bully and a wicked villain of fiction, 'utterly evil' they say.
They say you changed between 400BC & 30AD, that you went to counselling (or something) and sorted out your mood swings. They say that the Old Testament you is wildly different from the New Testament you.
They also say that I'm a fool to believe in you. They say that I'm wasting my life on religious fairy tales that they're keeping me captive to simplicity & conformity.
Am I? Are they?
I'll admit God, there's a lot I don't understand about you and a lot about the world that doesn't make sense to me. There's much about life that seems cruel and cold, and many of the things I pray for don't turn out how I'd like. But not understanding something isn't a reason to reject it, is it? The trouble is God I live under the Tyranny of the Now; a cruel despotic ruler who insists I have permission enough and perspective enough to judge anything from the past and find it wanting. The Tyranny of the Now insists that us post-moderns are the enlightened ones, that this is the enlightened age and that everything else was darkness. Especially all ideas about you.
I'm just not sure though.
Let's take what they say about your Old & New Testament selves. I just don't see the difference. The people who wrote the Old Testament are better positioned to judge you than me, and yet they described you as someone 'filled with loving kindness, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love.' Did they know some things about you that we don't? That's the you I know anyway, that's the you of the New. But then again in the New, Jesus you said some pretty Old Testament like things. You cursed cities and they became extinct, and you described in greater detail than anyone in the Old just how horrible the place of the unrighteous dead is. It seems the people who call you capricious don't really know you do they? You're just as creative, forgiving, loving and generous in the Old Testament as you are in the New. You're just as holy, sovereign and powerful in the New Testament as you are in the Old. Where's the conflict?
It seems to me that those who place such claims at your door aren't willing even to consider the whole picture. It's as though they've never even entertained the idea that ancient texts and ancient civilisations are different from today. They don't seem to think that to understand them might require a bit more thought than a mere superficial glance from the lofty heights of 21st Century post-modernity allows for. Mind you, I can sort of understand why they might just throw rocks and leave without waiting for a reply.
To be honest God, it'd be much more convenient for us if you weren't around. I could live however I wanted to, I could be my own boss. I could centre the universe around me... I'd love that! You see God, left to myself I don't want to be accountable to you. My self-centredness wants to be rid of you and I suppose if calling you a monstrous villain of fiction does that, then great! If you're not really there it would seem that I'm free to be free of you. Autonomy beckons me then, and that's what I've always wanted. It's what we've always wanted isn't it?
God, I haven't always liked you either.
I used to curse you any opportunity I had and I used to pity the people who identified themselves as yours; Christians. They made me feel so embarrassed, I felt ashamed for them. Now I am one; a Christian that is. I can remember the first time someone identified me as one, I flushed with embarrassment. How things have changed.
God, now that I know you I love you. It seems strange to say but it's true. My soul has found the object of its longings, my heart has met the completion of its affection. Do I love a monster? Has my soul found rest in the arms of a villain?
Hardly. The presence of natural hunger points to the existence of food, thirst to water and longing to love. The sheer fact that our souls long for you, for significance, for home, for peace is evidence enough that there is such a thing/One who can quench those thirsts.
Thank you God for searching me out, for not relenting in pursuing me. Thank you God for fulfilling my longing.
Thank you for forgiving my rebellion, my acting as though I'm the only king on the throne of the universe. Thank you God for Jesus. In him I see you more clearly than I could ever had done before.
In him I don't see anything even faintly resembling a beast.