A lot of crazy things are going on in this world! Crazier than usual, is what most of us think. It seems that everywhere I go people are discussing the latest antics of Mother Nature, especially here in the deep South! In the same week that we had the freakish deep freeze of February, we had an earthquake! Seriously! And, the epicenter of that earthquake was almost directly under our house. Seriously!
What was interesting is that everywhere I went in the days that followed people were saying things like: “Guess God’s trying to tell us something!’, “God must be trying to get our attention” or “This is God’s way of telling us He is sick and tired of the way we’ve rebelled against Him” or, “Yep, I knew we were on this road when they took prayer out of public school. Guess God is letting us know what He has in store for this wicked nation.” I listened and wished I had some clever answer-back, but I never said a word. However, a thought kept running through my mind, “Is this how people see You, Father? As an angry, fed-up, I’m- going- to -squish- you -evil- people-now kind of God?” It made me think of the famous sermon of Jonathan Edwards back in the eighteen century, “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God” I’ve never read his sermon, but that phrase seemed to fit what most “good church folk” and non-church folk seemed to feel was the response of God to the wayward designs of an evil world. But I couldn’t help asking Him, “Is this really your answer back, Father?”
Then, I thought of that phrase, “answer back”. It’s a term that many athletes and coaches use to encourage their players after the opposing team scores. I used it with my J.V. softball girls when it was our turn at bat and we were down by several runs. As one of my girls would tentatively approach the plate, bat in hand, I would yell, “Remember, you are in control up there. This is your time to answer back! Tell them you’re a hitter!” So, I truly wondered if all of these natural disasters, freaky weather anomalies, and horrific wars were God’s answer back to tell us Who was really in control, to tell us Who He really is?
And as I mused over this question with my Heavenly Father, one word was softly whispered into my heart, “Jesus”. Wow! One simple word after my seriously large questions about the character and intent of my God. And not just my questions, but all of the statements being made all over the world that say something about the very nature and character of the God that I love, and all He replied in His answer back was one, little word: “Jesus”.
I wanted some deep, godly theological answer that connected a bunch of scriptures together so I could feel smart and ready the next time somebody made an unqualified statement about my Father. “Jesus, really?” I asked. “Yes, REALLY” came His no-nonsense reply. Then I smiled. It made perfect sense!
God’s answer back to humanity’s evil and depravity came in the form of a tiny, helpless babe born to a willing, young couple 2000 years ago. His answer back to, “are you mad at us, God?” His answer back to, “Are we sinners in the hands of an angry God?” came in the softest cries of a tiny babe in a manger in Bethlehem. And His answer back to man’s sinful ways continued to echo through the hands of that baby as he grew into manhood and walked this earth speaking forgiveness and peace; touching blind eyes and leper’s skin; holding children; eating with tax collectors and sinners; granting pardon to a prostitute; loving with the heart of His Father and living out that love in every word, in every deed, everywhere He went!
How many thousands of people were drawn to God, not by the Pharisee’s decrees and demands which they claimed were the voice and intent of God, but by the tender touch of a carpenter’s son from a no-account town called Nazareth? Remember that the Jews of Jesus’ day were expecting God’s answer back to be a warrior messiah who would eradicate the Roman empire and make the Jews rulers in His earthly kingdom because they made a presumption about the character of God that fit their itinerary and desires. Are we guilty of the same thing? And how many of God’s chosen people missed His true intention, His true character because they assumed He was going to do something that He never intended on doing?
If God is a God of doom and gloom, who in the world would really want to give him their heart? What has any ruler ever really wrought by ruling from a platform of fear? Who would really be drawn to live a life of devotion and love to a god they were afraid of? Who could trust the “love” of a God that was just waiting to squish them when he was tired of their evil ways? Besides, if I read my Bible correctly, it was God’s idea to place my sentence to be squished on the shoulder’s of His one and only Son. The beating that Jesus endured, the nails, the crown of thorns, God’s wrath against man’s sin, God’s silence those 6 hours that day 2000 years ago, that was His answer back to my sin. That was God’s answer back to all of the world’s sin! Christ satisfied God’s wrath once and for all, we are told in the scriptures. Paid in full! Remember Jesus’ words on the cross before he gave up his spirit, he uttered, “It is FINISHED!” Not, “This is step one, but there’s more of God’s wrath to come.”
And, when all of hell rejoiced at the death of the One who was to be the Savior of all mankind, God had an answer back for that too! He said, “Arise, my Son!” Christ arose in power, glory, and victory! And that was God’s answer back to us as well. Telling each of us who receive His love through Christ as Savior that in Him we are imbued with power, glory, and victory! We are heirs with Christ, not peons about to be decimated! And this is the message He wants us to take to the world who is afraid that they are just sinners in the hands of an angry God.
And, didn’t he say that all the world would know who we, His children were, not by being extensions of doom and gloom and the wrath of God, but by LOVE! “And all the world will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” His LOVE, through US is what the world should be talking about. We should be loving so deeply, so crazy that that is what grabs the attention of the media, the cashiers at Walmart or the gas station attendants. But, instead it’s, “Can you believe this crazy weather? Guess God’s trying to tell us to get our act together!”
If Jesus was God’s answer back to the problem of sin, and we are the image of Jesus right here in this chaotic, mixed up world, then I guess it’s up to each of us to make sure that we are a true and accurate answer back to the world’s questions about the nature of our Father.