With many people, the issue is not necessarily that they don’t believe in God, but that they don’t like, or even disdain the god they think, God is. How many of us have heard this or that about someone, so when we met them, our preconceived prejudice had already colored our opinion of them? Only to find out later, our characterization was unwarranted, because they were nothing like the press that preceded them.

God suffers this injustice all the time. People are making judgments on little or no relevant information, or even misinformation, not taking the time to learn about him for themselves. For example;

There is a story in the New Testament that many people have heard, and they hold God in a harsh light because of it. It is the recount of Jesus cursing the fig tree.

Matthew 21:18-20; “Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. When the disciples saw this, they were amazed…”

Why did Jesus curse an innocent tree? One person accused Jesus of having a temper problem. What was Jesus showing his apostles? In scripture Israel is the fig tree. A fig tree bears leaves and fruit at the same time, but this tree did not have the fruit is was supposed to have. Jesus was saying that the leaders of Israel, who looked like they were religious by having an abundance of foliage, were in danger of being cursed because they were hypocrites with no fruitful relationship with God.

Jesus spoke often of the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of Israel and this is where his righteous anger came from. These leaders who were supposed to be leading and caring for God’s people, were corrupting them and leading them from God, and from life.

In Ezekiel God is talking with his prophet. He is sending him to Israel to warn them of coming judgment. Even though God knows that they are too stubborn to turn back to him he still sends Ezekiel just the same because of his unending love.

Ezekiel 33:17-20; “Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But it is their way that is not just. If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, they will die for it. And if a wicked person turns away from their wickedness and does what is just and right, they will live by doing so. Yet you Israelites say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But I will judge each of you according to your own ways.”

Ezekiel 33:10-11; “Son of man, say to the Israelites, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?” ’ Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?”

Here we can see God’s heart. He does not want anybody to die in their sin and be separated from him for eternity. “Turn! Turn!”, he says, “Why will you die”, why will you chose to die rather than follow me? Can you hear the pain in his heart at the loss of those who refuse to turn from their own ways. Judgment is coming, God is pleading to those who he given a sovereign will. He will not violate our free will and he will not force himself on anyone. Love without a choice is not love at all.

God is just and as there are consequences for breaking laws and regulations in life, there are spiritual laws and regulations that have consequences. God wants everyone to turn to him and be saved from an eternal consequence.

2 Peter 3:9; “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

1 Timothy 2:3-4; “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

James 2:12-13; “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

Everything God does is out of love and a desire to save us from ourselves. Anyone who has a wayward child, understands the lengths a parent will go, to try and save the one they have nurtured and loved from before they were even born.

Jeremiah 1:5; “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”

Galatians 1:15; “But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace.”

Much like our own children, God’s discipline can seem harsh even painful. Often it can be mistaken for anger, meanness or rejection, when in reality, it is for our ultimate good, as it is our lives that are in the balance.

Hebrews 12:7-11;

“As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. Our eternity is at stake. Yet we spend more time evaluating our next vehicle, that will only last us a few years, than we will investigate the potential of our own eternity.”

God is merciful and loving, but he is also just. He cannot overlook our sin or he would have to apologize to everyone he has brought judgment upon over the millennia and his Son. Jesus prayed three times to ask if there was another way other than his death to save humanity, and there was not.

Matthew 26:42; “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” – Jesus

1 Corinthians 6:17-20; “But the one united with the Lord is one spirit with him. … and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price.”

God isn’t some distant judge who presides emotionless over humanity. He loves you and has loved you from before you were born. He has an amazing plan for each of us, if we will only follow him. Our distance from our Father is personal and intimate for him. So much so, God became one of us. We can trust him. We can relate with him now as he knows our suffering, our weakness and our pain. Our God understands our frailty and struggles and has provided a remedy, Jesus.

Hebrews 2:16-18; “We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.”

His love and mercy alone cannot overlook the cost of sin and disobedience. As our Father, he can only stand by and weep for those who refuse to accept his love in his provision of his Son Jesus. To refuse Jesus, is to refuse God’s love.

Our Father will pursue us until our final breath. He will never give up, never leave us, never forsake us. The Father’s love will never relent. Why would anyone push a love like this way? The prophet is calling to us today;  Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you [choose to] die,…?”

2 Peter 3:9; “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Romans 8:31-39; “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? … Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?… No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Robert J.