Ananias, you sold property to give money to the church. But then you kept some and said you didn’t. Dead. Sapphira – you did too? Dead. Uzzah, you reached out to protect God’s ark of the covenant from falling on the ground. Dead. Gehazi, you wanted some kickback for God’s healing of Naaman? Leprosy (painful way of getting dead). Job’s sons, just because you are Job’s sons – dead. Moses, you hit a rock instead of talking to it. Dead (No Promised Land for you). Lot’s wife, you looked back. How could you??? Dead (creatively dead, but not any less dead). David’s and Bathsheba’s child, you did nothing wrong, but your parents did. Dead. Achan, you took some money and a cloak from a dead guy? Dead. Achan’s family, you have the misfortune of being related to Achan. Dead. Christians in Corinth, you aren’t doing the Lord’s Supper right. Dead. And the list goes on.
Satan, you introduced sin to the human race, and caused all manner of pain and suffering. Dead? No, you get to hang around for all of human history and cause destruction. Cain, you brutally murdered your own brother. Dead? No, you get special protection from God. Canaanites, you were murderous, idolatrous, and generally awful. Dead? Nope. You get four hundred more years to be scoundrels, and your children’s children’s children get to pay the price. David, you committed adultery and murder. Dead? Not you. You get to be part of an everlasting kingdom. Paul, you persecuted Jesus and murdered Christians. Dead? No, you get to be the most prolific apostle. And this list, also, goes on.
Very simply put, God’s morality, as evidenced in these Biblical accounts, does not match ours. Everyone in the first list we would probably let off with a warning and maybe a public apology. Their punishments do not fit the crime, from our perspective. On the other hand, those in the second list we would tar, feather, strangle, and burn. Then we would complain about them on Twitter and Facebook. What is wrong with God? Why can’t He get this morality and justice thing right?
If you and I approached things the way He appears to at times, we would be considered by our peers to be jerks of the highest order. So it shouldn’t be hard to say that from our perspective maybe God is a jerk.
But there is a key phrase that we have to consider: our perspective. This life is all we know, because it is all we are presently equipped to sense and experience. Consequently, we value our brief life on earth more than anything else. But God doesn’t. As the Creator, He has perspective that we don’t. He knows the rest of the story. Here’s one part of that story we often leave out: Jesus, you are God in the flesh, and the perfect model of humanity. There is no other like you, and you are the richest treasure ever to walk the planet. Dead (and then alive…mustn’t leave out that part, either).
God allowing His own Son to die – the very image, essence, and glory of Himself. To us this makes no sense. Some have even called this divine child abuse, though that accusation is ridiculous, especially considering that Jesus willingly gave His own life (Jn 10:18). He could have done it differently. He could have done it in so many ways, but for whatever reason, He chose this one. Jesus died to pay a substitutionary death for all (1 Jn 2:2), so that all who believe in Him have eternal life (Jn 3:16). But what about those who don’t believe in Him? Jesus made no apology for His assertion that He would, one day, judge, and that those who don’t believe will have a resurrection in judgment (Jn 5:27-29).
Does God offer mercy to all with the threat of eternal judgment for those who don’t believe? Yes. What kind of horrible offer is that? How can He say He loved the whole world when most of it (presumably not taking the “narrow way”) will be unbelieving and undergo His judgment? From our perspective that might be more madness than love.
And there it is again: our perspective. Here we come to the realization that we are in a battle of perspectives. In one corner, you have humanity, blindfolded and impotent. In the other is God, who allegedly created everything. If He is the Creator, then He has sovereign rights over His creation – plus the added bonus of seeing and knowing everything. The bell rings, and the battle of perspectives begins. Who are you going to bet on? We don’t even have the capability to understand what love is without Him.
“But,” one might wonder, “are you saying that might makes right?” “Does this mean that the strongest gets to determine what is correct?” Not exactly. I would say it differently: might doesn’t make right, but absolute might certainly does. Because only the Creator of all has ultimate might. And does not the one who designed it all have the prerogative to set the rules?
The question is simple. Whose perspective will we trust? He tells us that, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom” (Prov 1:7). He tells us that there is no injustice with Him (Rom 9:14), and that “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion” (Ex 33:19). He tells us that He loved the world and sent His Son to die so that all might have life by believing in His name (Jn 3:16; 20:31).
When it comes to morality and justice, the Creator isn’t obligated in the same way He obligates His creation. Just as a father has the prerogative to restrict his children from driving a car, all while driving a car himself, the Creator is no hypocrite for operating outside of the standards He requires for His creatures. And we can only understand Him – who He is and what He expects – to the extent He has revealed Himself in His word. Even there He doesn’t give us the whole picture, so we have limited information – perhaps just enough to make an informed decision and to have a relationship with Him.
We have to decide whose perspective we will trust: our holy and loving Creator’s, or our own (Prov 3:5-6). If we choose poorly – not relying on His love and grace – then we are the jerks, not Him. Don’t be a jerk.