Many times, we are confused about who God truly is when we read the Bible. The God in the Old Testament seems to be a vengeful God, punishing and reward, punishing and rewarding. Whenever mankind strayed from God, painful penalties were applied, from sending grasshoppers to destroy the
fields to God granting Isaac wells wherever he dwelt. It can be confusing.
Jesus, however, brough forth a new benevolent God, a god of peace. A god who forgave transgressions and sins, such as the prostitute whom Jesus saved from the crowds. And yet, in John, Jesus proclaims a list of transgressions and the penalties forthcoming. All was not peace; there remained this hidden threat that if mankind strays, God will be vengeful. . . very similar to the God of the Old Testament.
One thing I accept is that this is one of the many examples that ties the New and Old Testament together, showing us that Jew or Christian, we all are safe in God’s loving arms. (And I apologize for humanizing God for God is infinite, not human.
Humanity continually searches for God’s eternity. We can only find eternity through our faith and communication with God. We grow ourselves internally and spiritually to have a true relationship with one so powerful, so forgiving and gracious as God.
Are we ready to grow, to hear, to listen, and to understand? If we are not, then we can never know or understand God.
My brothers and sisters, we must first learn to love our true selves. Then, we can turn to love our neighbor as ourselves, just as Jesus asks us to do. When we can truthfully do each of these, we are then able to love God, not the vengeful god of the Old Testament, but the gracious and forgiving God brought to us by Jesus, our pathway to God.
© Russell Kendall Carter