Judging God, Punishing Ourselves
by Tom Gilson*
Here is the great spiritual tragedy of our day: we’ve taken on the role of judging God; and for his “crimes,” we’re punishing ourselves. Jeremiah 2:5 (NKJV) reads,
Thus says the Lord:
“What injustice have your fathers found in Me,
That they have gone far from Me,
Have followed idols,
And have become idolaters?
A look in the Hebrew dictionary reveals that idols and idolaters could be translated futilities or vanities and futile or empty, which brings it into the 21st century without violating the text.
The secular West has found massive injustice in God, in the Church and in the Bible we follow. It has judged God and found him oppressive, genocidal, misogynistic, homophobic, pro-slavery, sexually repressed, politically backward, scientifically ignorant, and intolerant. Alternatively, in some places the West has pounded its gavel and declared God “Not Interesting. Not Relevant.”
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But He is Good!
And oh, you must understand the deep cry of my heart, for I have studied the source, the Bible, I have examined the history of God’s people, and I know that God is none of these things. He is good! He gives life, and freedom, and justice, and abundance of joy. He does good in the world, especially through his people, the Church. While we are human and therefore prone to wrong-doing — and believe me, I probably know the embarrassments of our history at least as well as you do, if not better — on the whole the Church’s influence on the world has been very good.
Denying God’s Goodness
But the secular West has forgotten that. It has buried it under a mountain of manipulative rhetoric, or in some cases has accumulated so many years of lies, that it simply cannot see God and his people that way. This is not primarily about Christianity’s reputation; I wouldn’t want to put that in first place. It’s about the knowledge of the goodness and glory of God, of which the Church is an imperfect reflection.
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*Tom Gilson is the National Field Director for Ratio Christi, responsible for training and supporting the Regional and Chapter Directors. Tom was on staff with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) for over 30 years and has wide ranging experience as a ministry strategist, writer, teacher, HR leader, blogger, and apologist. He has a Masters degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from the University of Central Florida. He has served as a ministry strategist and writer for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, also known as BreakPoint; and has done strategic and organizational consulting work for Josh McDowell Ministry, the JESUS Film Project, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and other ministries as well as local churches.