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God on trial?

You know it’s a bad sign when you can’t write your final paper that you’ve been thinking about all term because the answer you have emerged from your research is simply and utterly wrong.

So I am now seated in the library that my grandfather’s company built with a stack of books that is almost as high as the floor I’m on desperately trying to sort out my random thoughts that need gathering very soon. And one of the ways I sort out my thoughts is through writing. So here I go.

I’ve been thinking a lot of Jesus’ trial this Holy week.

My suffering will never be as great as Christ’s and I will never suffer as one who is completely innocent. But I have been touched by a Saviour who understands what it is like to be put on trial, to have to give a justification when you have stood for love and life, being mocked, misunderstood, rejected.

If you read my long reflection on Following Christ, you will see that I have also been touched by Christ drinking the cup – the wrath of God against all humanity – in his suffering and death.

As I have been reading for my paper, and been thinking about the “sinned-against”, I have been repeatedly found myself at the cross.

It seems to me, that anyone who has been a victim of violence or abuse, ultimately has to wrestle with God. As I’ve said before on this blog, violence demands an answer. Not just an intellectual answer, but an embodied one. The cost of the wounds need to be paid.

My stepfather cannot do this. The best gift he can offer me is a humble and repentant “I’m sorry”. No amount of suffering, jail time, money, community service is honestly sufficient to pay the price of what he has done.

And even if it were, he is a sinner no greater nor lesser than I am. The same grace and forgiveness showered in my life will be offered to him. Vengeance is the Lord’s. And when one truly gives that to God, who knows what God will do. There are times I have had to suffer for what I have done, and times when God’s grace has allowed me to “get off lightly”.

What kind of love is this? That gave itself for me. I am the guilty one. And yet I go free. – Steve Bell, What Kind of Love is This

We are in bondage to sin. Sin runs so deep within us that we cannot get through a day without being unfaithful to God. In many ways, we are helpless. By this I do not mean we are not culpable – rather, we are sinners and continue to sin and without Christ, we have no hope of changing this. So at the end of the day, I can only feel sorry for my stepfather.

But God? The omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent God does not get off so easy. Where was he when I cried out to him? Why did he not save me? Why did he allow it in the first place?

So many questions. Violence demands an answer.

And so, God is on trial.

Offensive? Perhaps. So is the prayer in Psalm 137 to dash the Babylonian babies’ heads against the rocks.

Misdirected? Perhaps. I know all the free will arguments. I also know that the trial Christ actually endured is not quite the same thing I am saying when I think God needs to be put on trial. I also know I am in dangerous territory when I interchangeably use God and Christ and am well-aware of the theories around God abuse of Christ (while some of these theories have some helpful things to think about, I do not seek to advocate for them).

Am I losing faith? No. I know God can handle this. I know God will love me through the process even when I say offensive and angry remarks. I know he has a way of orchestrating beauty and truly working all things together for his glory.

Somebody’s gotta pay for this. ‘Cause none of us gets away unless somebody dies and there’s been pain enough to satisfy the rage of the losses she’s sustained by age thirteen. Only then can the rest go free.

Nothing will suffice. Unless you stumble upon it like a dream I had last night. About a man who chose to pay the price, on a tree, silently and still, just long enough for me to kill. – Steve Bell, Somebody’s Gotta Pay

  1. March 30, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    The violence I grew up with made it impossible for me to understand the world from a Christian point of view. The world is simply unjust. If human beings are made in God’s image, then either God is a sadist, or he is not as infallible as we would like to believe. Neither ideas makes much sense.

    If I really ponder deeply, I find myself unable to consider God at all, for somewhat similar reasons.

    That is all to say that I understand what you are going through. I don’t know what the answers are, but they aren’t easy. But I do think God loves you.

    • March 30, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      Thank you! You are right – easy answers won’t do. But yes, I am utterly loved by God. I think it is that love that enables one to come to God honestly with deep questions and boldness.

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