Can we talk for just a sec? I wasn’t planning on another new blog post this week, but I’m tired. I’m tired of people reading a passage of scripture and using it to beat someone up. First, the Bible isn’t a weapon and it should never be used like one. Second, if you think you can read a passage of scripture and know what the Bible says, you’re woefully mistaken. Third, the Bible doesn’t say anything until we make it say something by interpreting its meaning. When we use the Bible to beat people up, it’s us speaking, not the Bible.
Take the creation story, for example. I, in my human interpretation and understanding, think it is a story meant to teach us something about our relationship with God. Actually, I think that’s what the first 11 chapters of Genesis are…they are stories meant to teach an ancient people where they came from, why the world is the way it is, and how God relates to humanity.
Some people read the creation story (or Cain and Abel, Noah and the flood, etc) and think it’s a story about wrath and judgment. I read the creation story and think it’s about grace and love. Think about it: God tells Adam and Eve if they eat from the tree of the knowledge of God and evil, they’ll die. Lo and behold, they eat from the tree, God finds out, and Adam and Eve are toast, right? Wrong! God finds out, spares their lives, but does expel them from the garden, and then…God makes clothes for them. God cares for them to the point that God leaves the garden with them. How do we know? Because God shows up in the next story…Cain and Abel. God’s still around. Why? Because God is a God of grace, mercy, and love.
Cain kills Abel. What happens? Does God take revenge by killing Cain? No! God places a mark on Cain so no one will hurt Cain or his descendants. Why? Because God is a God of grace, mercy, and love. Oh, and for the Bible bangers, this is where sin enters the story…not in the creation story with Adam and Eve. Kind of calls into question the idea of original sin, doesn’t it? But that’s for another blog.
Noah and the ark. God sees the evil in the world that humanity has caused and, rather than wiping the slate clean and starting over, God spares Noah and his family and saves a remnant of humanity. Why? Because God is a God of grace, mercy, and love. God wants humanity to continue…even though humanity has really screwed up God’s perfect creation. And it goes on from there. Through all the Bible’s twists and turns from Genesis to Revelation, God never leaves. God never forsakes. God’s always got an eye on God’s creation because God cares about us…all of us.
How do I know? Because in the fullness of time, Jesus was born to redeem God’s creation. Why? Because God is a God of grace, mercy, and love…and God wants humanity’s story to continue. How do we know? Jesus calls for mercy for those who would destroy him. Jesus pardons a convicted criminal and, rather than condemning him to hell, gives him paradise, instead. How do we know? Because God is love and nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.