Our Untidy, But Quite Serious, God
We need to embrace the simple, yet profound fact that God is fuzzy to us. People tend to like a God who is nice and sharply defined. A tidy God, preferable tidy in the areas in which they think a god ought to be tidy. Things like, “God is pro-life” or “God is love.” They want to have a god who is manageable and definable. One that they can put their mental arms around and give a good hug. But the God of the Scriptures is not so tidy and certainly not so huggable.
My mind takes in the story in Exodus 11 and 12 of the killing of all the first-born in Egypt. The Lord did not allow it to happen, He flat out did it Himself! This passage makes it clear that the Lord (i.e. Yahweh) went into the midst of Egypt and a whole lot of dying took place that night. That is not tidy and that is not comfortable for us to think about. In my own mind I can see God doing this to Pharaoh, but why “the first-born of the slave girl who is behind the mill stone” (11:5)? But then, the bible is not asking me to approve of the actions of God, the bible is telling me to fear and worship Him. My opinion, my feelings, and my comfort level is not on the table for discussion.
Moses tells Pharaoh that there is a purpose behind all of this killing that is going to happen. He points out that God will not touch Israel in any way during this time. And the reason? “. . . that you may understand how the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel” (11:7). Now, that is simply untidy in our “fair-minded” world. A whole lot of people are about to die and be relegated to hell simply so that God can show that He cares for His covenant people more than he cares for the Egyptians. Let us read and fear our Lord. God then tells Moses in verse 9 that there was even a great purpose behind this killing of the first-born, one that again is guaranteed to send the modern American evangelical into a screaming tizzy. God is going to keep Pharaoh from listening to Moses so that God can multiply His wonders in Egypt. God is pleased to kill these people and all these animals simply to show that He is the One True God.
All who attend the church I pastor should know I despise Veggie Tales, but some find it merely to be one of those little quirks of their pastor; therefore, they smile and then put it out of their mind. But Veggie Tales are hated in my mind simply because they make God cute and manageable. Now I would be more understanding if they would make the show about the fall of Jericho to include the killing of all living beings in that city. But this would not be a marketable product. How do you sell videos to mommies and daddies that could possibly cause their children to be troubled in their spirit as they watch little baby carrots and broccoli people get hacked to pieces by those Israelites. I would be especially impressed if it was clearly and unashamedly stated that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob wanted those little babies in Jericho killed.
So what is my point? Simply that we must break down the false gods that we have created in our minds, homes and churches. We must call people to bow down to the God who not only gives life, but also takes life. We must realize that God offends our pagan, arrogant sense of fairness. We must see that the Cross truly is an offensive thing to this dead world. The god of veggie tales is not a thing to fear. The christ of Veggie Tales is not the risen Lord of heaven and earth, who holds all of the atoms of our bodies together by the exertion of His will and pleasure.
Now, for those who are reading this and believe my point is a diatribe against Veggie Tales, let me be more clear. These dear little vegetables are merely a mirror into the shallow and sick soul of the church today. If their purpose is to bring a happy smile to people’s faces, then fine, they achieve that. But at what expense? The reality is that they are using God’s Word to humor children (and make a truckload of money). This is not a proper use of the Word. They reflect the intolerance that the church has developed for the God of the Scriptures. It is no wonder to me why we have little hope to offer the person who has been paralyzed in an accident or the parent who is gazing at the body of his young teen who had been killed by a drunk driver. Our god could not have done these things because that would be just wrong. Just don’t tell that to Job, the blind man of John 9, or the slaughtered thousands of Jericho.