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Sunday, April 7, 2013

How Is It that Our God of Love Is Full of Hatred


Then they came to Jerusalem. And [Jesus] entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE NATIONS’? But you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” (Mark 11:15-17 NIV).

Christians can sometimes rather flippantly say that we are to “hate the sin, but love the sinner.” Thus we find ourselves with remarkable ease applauding the assassination of Osama bin Laden—facilely obscuring the identities of sin and sinner. At these times we must consider that if God hates with a human hate, he had a strange way of showing it—by sending his son into the world to be the crucified redeemer of mankind.

Let us consider an important event during Jesus’s ministry—when he drove the money changers out of the temple—when he obviously was beside himself with anger and even used a whip in his anger (John 2:15). If we had a snapshot of this scene and a close-up of the visage of Jesus when so righteously indignant, would we not see the very picture of hatred on his face?

Perhaps I make a distinction without a difference; but I see, in this instance of Jesus at the temple, a perfectionist who has encountered something absolutely unacceptable. In my view this is significantly different from an unleashed emotion of hatred.

Once in a while I will try my hand at poetry. It is almost crazy the extent to which I disallow what I see as imperfection in sound or sense. Thus for a brief moment on a small scale I share the notoriously tempestuous spirit of a great artist at the moment of precision's induction.

Having said this—that Jesus was a perfectionist—it is essential to point out that Jesus was not a prude. He easily ate with tax collectors and sinners and had disciples who were relaxed about washing their hands before eating. Jesus was an artist of the spirit—of the heart—and hurtful attitudes in this realm greatly troubled him.

I have difficulty forming a visual of Jesus assassinating Osama bin Laden. On the other hand, I’m certain he raged about heaven on 9/11 at the sometimes unlimited cruelly of man and his ability to despoil the perfection of God's spirit.

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