Saturday, August 11, 2012

Does God Punish Us?

by Donna L. Watkins

There are a lot of bad situations that come our way in life.  Some of them we've invited in from sin, which opens the doorway for the devil to mess with us.  Some come from natural consequences of our actions.  The principle of "you reap what you sow" applies to many of life's "gardens."

I was raised being told that God is the one doing these things to teach us something.  Then as I got into different denominations I was told that God doesn't directly send evil to us, but He allows the devil to do it so we might learn from it.

© Donna L. Watkins - Bee On Way to Lunch
Meems Covered Bridge - Mt. Jackson, VA
Neither of those beliefs made me feel very comfy and cozy with God the Father.  But Jesus I could snuggle up to, yet Jesus said again and again that "if you have seen Me ... or heard Me ... you have seen and heard the Father."

He also said in John 10:30 that "I and my Father are one."

He came to demonstrate the Father's love in the flesh. Look at what He did, how He did it, and why He did it.  Did Jesus teach anybody by making things bad for them?  Did He put disease on anybody to teach them something?  Where do we get the idea that God the Father would use these methods of correction. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says,

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

If God provided the Word for us to learn from, don't you think He would be the first one using it?  The Word is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12) and Jesus said that "My Words are spirit and they are life (John 6:63)." What more could we ask for?

God wants all men to be saved (I Tim. 2:4), but all men are not saved. We get to choose whether to apply the Word. God wishes above all things that we be prosperous and in good health (3 John 1:2), but not all are prospered and healed. We get to choose whether we apply the Word.

Are we more likely to turn to God if we believe He is a God of anger and revenge? Many of us have had earthly fathers that were abusive and it doesn't place a good image on the word "father."

Consider the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) and how the father allowed him to make his own choices and how he continued to love his son and look for him daily. When he saw him coming, he lifted up his robes and ran to meet him. Total and utter abandonment to his love for his son. And did he allow the son to wallow in his own condemnation? Did the father take time to condemn? He cut him off from even being able to apologize.

There was no focus on the sin, but only on love. The only picture Jesus painted of the Father was one of total love. Jesus paid the price for our sins, so we are now justified (just as if I'd never sinned) before God.

Did you notice in the Prodigal Son story that Scripture says, "he came to himself." That means he came to his senses and realized how good he had it at home. It doesn't say, "God finished the training session and the son decided to go back home." Tragedy often brings people out of deception and back to their senses. God had nothing to do with the circumstances that the son got himself into. In Jeremiah God said to him, "Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee" (Jeremiah 4:18).

Maybe we don't want to take responsibility for our own choices. It's easier to say that God allowed it to happen. God will allow His laws of the universe to continue as He established them. If you're leaning out a 20th story window and lean too far, gravity will take you to the sidewalk below. Did God do that to you? No. Through the laws of aerodynamics we can transcend Earth's gravity, such as flying and putting men in space. But it takes power to do this and if that power is turned off, the law of gravity is still there to cause whatever is in the air to drop.

According to those who think that God is in charge of every little detail of life would have to say that He did. You can't ride both sides of the fence. Either God is sovereign in every minute detail of life or He's allowing the principles/laws He put in place to operate.

If you were such a BIG and AWESOME God that the whole universe is held in the span on one of your hands, would you want to micro-manage what you created? Everything that God made came from a seed.  God didn't create the trees in Eden and then as they died off have to create some more to replace them.  He set things up so they would all recreate themselves.  It's amazing to think of seeds.  Even ones that they found that were thousands of years old in Egyptian tombs are still able to produce life.

God made man for fellowship, walking with him in the Garden of Eden every evening. Of course, He can do anything, but what He does is work within the principles that He created for this world and for us.  And that allows free will.  We wouldn't have free will if God arranged every detail of our day.  And if you say, "Well, He doesn't bother with every detail" then how do you choose when He's sovereign and when He's not with that theology? Did you know that the word "sovereign" is not used in the King James Version of the Bible?

Sovereign means "a person who has sovereign power or authority." Certainly God has all power and authority, but He gets to choose when to use it. I was taught it meant He was behind every thing that happened on earth. If we go out and drink and drive and kill others and ourself from an accident, does it mean that God decided our time was up? Did He suggest through the Holy Spirit to us that it was time to go get drunk and drive? Only the devil would do that, not a loving Father. I know this view of sovereignty with God is a hard one to swallow. It sure was for me until I had a paradigm shift and saw that it made no sense at all when you match it up with Scripture. Read more about The Sovereignty of God.

Some people get really angry when you talk to them about God's love and how good He is.  Why do we have such a challenge accepting God's love for us? We are still living under the curse of having to DO something, which is living under the curse of the law. Jesus came to redeem us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13), to make a New Covenant with us that operated through grace: Grace To Begin Again.

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