The Humility of God
The greatest tragedy that religion does, is how it alienates people from God. Believers and unbeliever both. There are so many people I've met who are angry at God because they just don't understand him. That's because religion has painted such an ugly picture of God.
The God of "Love me or die", the God of "He's so powerful, but indifferent to our suffering." and even the God of "He's so powerful, but also so powerless because of our sin."
I'm telling you, these perspectives of God are all a complete lie. A craftily cunning lie that Satan has dispersed widely through the help of Christianity. Let me tell you, everything that God has done he has done to demonstrate who he is to us, to teach us, to raise us and to prepare us for a future beyond this world.
Yes, God created evil. That child starving in Ethiopia, or down the block? He intends to transform that into something good. Those crazy terrorist that destroyed the WTC? He intends to use that for good. The Holocaust? He intends to use that for good. Evil itself will not last, instead it is the tool God uses to transform us and prepare us for what is to come.
Isaiah 45:5-75 I am Yahweh, and there is no
other; Except for Me, there is no Elohim; I am forearming you,
yet you do not know Me,
6 That they may
know, From the rising of the sun and from the west, That there is no one apart from Me; I am Yahweh, and there is no other.
7 Former of light and Creator of darkness,Maker
of good and Creator of evil, I, Yahweh,
make all these things .
The more you learn about God the more you discover how deeply he loves us. He does not rejoice in the evil that disrupts our lives, but like a father who does not take pleasure in the pain of his child's discipline, he does so knowing that it will reap a lifetime of benefit. The more we grow in our understanding of God's love, the more we can grow in the mature acceptance of the necessity of evil.
I want to give you a glimpse of how deeply God loves us by taking you through a powerful Old Testament template that perfectly illustrates the power of the Cross. I guarantee you, most of you have never heard of this before.
3 And it came to be at the end of a year’s days that Cain brought an approach present to Yahweh from the fruit of the ground.
4 As for Abel however, he brought some firstlings of his flock and their fat portions and Yahweh gave heed to Abel and his approach present.
5 But to Cain and his approach present He did not give heed; so Cain’s anger grew very hot, and his face fell.
In ancient times, and even in some cultures today, an approach present was required to be given before you could "approach" a royalty. For example, If I were to request the audience of the Prime Minister of Canada, I might buy a box of expensive cigars, and forward that to the PM before I came to visit him. I would hope that my present would be welcomed and make me look favorable to him.
Even today, when we go to a friend's house, we might bring a case of beer, or a bottle of wine, or a desert. Usually we will all consume these, but this is a mark of politeness to incur favor with our friends and to increase the likelihood we will be welcomed and invited again.
This is similar to what is happening in this early scene in Genesis. Abel gave an approach present, he wanted an audience from God and brought one that was favorable to God.
The approach present is typical throughout Genesis in many different settings. In Leviticus it is written out how to properly bring an approach present to God. Traditional translations usually call this a sacrifice or something similar. It loses it's meaning however, when you limit it to a sacrifice. Sacrifice is all about appeasement.
The approach present however, is about granting a favorable audience.
It is significant to note that the very first set of instructions in Leviticus is on how to give an approach present.
Leviticus 1 (I will spare you the reading, you can find it yourself on www.concordant.org) God is giving Moses specific instructions on how to properly prepare it and goes on for 2 more chapters detailing the proper administration of it.
8For in grace, through faith, are you saved, and this is not out of you; it is God's approach present,
9 not of works, lest anyone should be boasting.
God himself has given us an approach present so HE can approach US.
This is a huge reversal of custom. Instead of us approaching royalty, HE APPROACHES US!
Can you fathom this? Faith is given to us by God, we are saved by the faith of Jesus Christ in God. And God himself sacrificed his own son in order to gain a favorable audience with us.
This is completely upside down from orthodox religion would teach us. God is not angry, God is not vengeful, God is not bloodthirsty or distant. He is reaching out to us and seeking to be reconciled to us. He humbles himself, giving up his own son in order to demonstrate the depth of his love to us. He would not withhold even his only son from us.
This is the dramatic humility of a God unlike anything religion teaches.
Believe it, find peace in it, and know that God is conciliated towards ALL Mankind. That is how deeply he loves us.