Monday, March 24, 2014

Violent Love

First of all, some of you need to get your mind out of the gutter... I know that to some, the title may imply something inappropriate, but this post is not about some strange fantasy, so just forget about that! But since the title brought you here to read this post, stay right here, I want to talk to you about something for a minute.

I woke up this morning with something on my mind and I have been thinking about it all morning as I went about getting ready for the day.  I don't know if I will even be able to write my thoughts in words, as they were mostly images on the movie screen of my brain.  

I have been reading a book about martyrs that have given their life for their faith and that has really been getting to me... deep.  Thinking about what they went through for their faith and what they sacrificed has just really shaken me.  It makes me feel so guilty for complaining for anything in my life.  They were put into prison, beaten, sacrificed, burned to death, be-headed, stoned to death.  All so that other people can know the love of Christ.  

That's not something I have really heard much about in church.  What I have been taught most of my life is how to be a good girl.  But if you read the Bible, really read it and study it, following God is not just about being good.  Many people think of the Bible as a sweet story book, but it isn't a fairy tale.  If you compare it to any storybook, the Old Testament is really more like Grimm's fairy tales. Except that this is not fiction, but a historical account of the nation of Israel.   It is very beautiful, but can also be very violent.  There are stories about rape, entire cities being slaughtered, many many wars, murder, the list goes on.  So, where am I going with this? I feel that most of what I have been taught is something that is just not real.  Or, at least not the whole picture.  That is why so many people reject church.  So many churches are just not real.  Many churches choose the happy verses and leave out anything negative. 

 It reminds me of watching an episode of Barney.  I can't stand watching Barney.   I know this is a strange example, but I have little kids so I think about this stuff, lol.  I love watching Sesame Street with my kids, and one day I was wondering why I liked one show so much and despise the other.  Then I realized, its because Sesame Street has happy characters and grumpy characters. You have sweet happy Elmo, but you also have Oscar the grouch.  Sometimes they are sad and experience emotions other than just being happy. Seeing all different emotions makes them more loveable because we have different emotions.  Barney is just happy all the time and it is hard to swallow. The Bible is not Barney or Sesame Street, but it is a very small example of the difference between too much happy and something that mirrors real life.  People need something real, the good and the bad. 

 There are so many good things about God, He is perfect, but when we ignore the things of the Bible that are not as pretty we are missing half of the picture.  People don't really like to talk about Jesus dying on the cross because it isn't pretty.  We talk about it at Easter because that is the appropriate time to talk about it, but then for the rest of the year, we don't think about it.  Not really, if you are honest with yourself.  It's not fun to think about.  I know speaking for myself,  I don't like to think about it.  I don't like violence.  I don't like blood.  So, I think about it once a year during Easter like a good Christian girl and forget it the rest of the year.  

But for some reason this was on my mind this morning: 

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities

Just that part of the verse kept going through my head all morning.  So I looked it up on and read a little more, then a little more.  The whole chapter where this is found is really good, but I really like these surrounding verses: 

Isaiah 53:4-6

New International Version (NIV)
Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, (sins)
    he was crushed for our iniquities;(sins)
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
God loves us passionately, but it isn't always pretty.  Jesus went through a very violent death because he loves us so wholly and so completely.  Nails were hammered into his hands and he was beaten terribly. He was made fun of during the beatings.  He was treated so very badly that is hard to really  realize what he went through.  I have never been through anything even close to what he went through.  

In the Old Testament, wars were fought because God promised land to the Israelites.  They had to fight for their promise.  It wasn't easy and it wasn't pretty.  In life, we go through hard times and it's not always pretty, but God promises to love you and give you peace.  We aren't always perfect.  Like it says in v6 above, we ALL like sheep have gone astray.  All of our sins put him on a cross.  He died because of us.  

God is good and he always fights for the good of those who love him.  Time after time in the Bible, God sent his angels to fight battles for his people.  There may be a lot of violence, but behind that passion and violence is a God who loves you and is willing to fight for you.  He never harms a hair on the head of those who love Him.  He is fighting FOR us.  It is the people who are opposing and oppressing His people that God always opposes and attacks.  I think when we really think about this and meditate on how deep His love is for you, it will stir you soul.  It will change you from deep within.  

    John 3:16
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.