we want a god of tally marks, a person in the clouds with pen in hand making checks in the good and bad columns of each of our lives. we want a god of rules who can easily measure each of us in light of whether we're following the rules or breaking them. we want a god that sends destruction on those who break too many of the rules and blessings on those who do the best job of following them. in short, we want a god that makes life easy for us in the sense that the way to live is clear-cut--either we are following the commandments or we are not. i suppose that is why so many evangelicals are intent on displays of the ten commandments being thrown up everywhere.
the God we see in the teachings of jesus is quite different. this God is one who says, "greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends" (john 15:13). this God is one who, when asked, "who is my neighbor?" replies "all are your neighbors, even those who refuse to believe as you do, even 'illegal immigrants,' even those wish you harm" (luke 10:15-37). this God is one who tells us to "love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (matthew 5:44).
this is not a god of easy answers, a god of rules that make life's choices easy. instead the God that jesus teaches us about is a God who says that the only law is that of love. my prayer today is that each of us will make the hard choices that flow from living lives of radical, unconditional love, that we will sense the God that is part of our innermost being who calls us to love unreasonably and without the desire for reward. shalom.