Recently, a friend sent me an e-mail showing examples of so called church humor. One item really struck me. In it, a church posted a sign which said:” Read the Bible; it will scare the Hell out of you.” Isn’t it sad that so many people view the Bible in precisely this fashion, as a book designed to scare men into righteousness and acceptance by God. It is a miserable message which rightly alienates men and belittles God as some sort of fearsome tyrant. Historically, those who reject this understanding of the Bible and God have been labeled as heretics or willfully evil men. It strikes me that these folks are simply unable to accept and honor a god who operates in such an ungodly manner. Exercises in fear seem all too human-like and thoroughly unbecoming of a transcendent Being worthy of praise and honor.
The fact is that The Bible and God do not have to be interpreted in this way. Despite the historical position of orthodoxy and the incessant message heard from many of our pulpits, God does not have to be seen as fearsome in the light of the Bible, not in the final analysis. The basic problem arises when men fail to differentiate between God’s expediency of the moment with His ultimate plan and purpose for mankind. Wrath and judgment were not and never will be God’s final word for man. If it were, then wrath and judgment would have been that answer long ago. There is no conceivable reason to let mankind stumble along in a slow spiritual process of two millennia since Christ and then suddenly bring human history to a final conclusion based on a fearsome judgment of the vast majority of mankind. That theological position makes a mockery of everything that Christ represented. To reject this traditional message is merely to recognize and confirm God’s defining characteristic, His unfathomable Love