Two Faced God? (Part 1)
"So long as you believe in a Two-Faced God, you will create ecstasy and terror side by side. You have imagined a God who is the epitome of both, and by telling yourself that you are created in the Image and Likeness of God, you have given yourself the moral authority to demonstrate both. You love and hate in the name of God." -NEAL DONALD WALSCH, Tomorrow's God
Perhaps many people relate to this quote, while others are offended by it. Is the God of the Bible really Two-Faced? Far too often, I have been presented by leaders with a God that is, at best schizophrenic, and at worst a supernatural tyrant. I know many people who are struggling in their faith as a result. Additionally, the varying incompatible views of God and His Word have been the cause of so much vehement division between Israeli and Palestinian brothers and sisters. I have personally had to work through my own views of God as a result and it’s been a difficult process. But I am left believing in a God that may not look as others present Him but is still very real and the source of all that is good. Exploring this is so important because it is the root to how we act in His name, especially here in the midst of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. First off, I will present two questions:
- 1. Was Jesus truly the embodiment of God’s nature, of God Himself? In other words, do you truly believe Him to be divine?
- 2. Is God a God of war and separation or is He one of justice, peace and universality?
Honestly, the answers to these questions can either lead to people behaving like the Crusaders and Jihadists in God’s name, or behaving like a Christian Gandhi,. Because ideology and how we relate to Him and to His wordshapes things to that extent.
Here in Israel, many people seem to preach a God of war and entitlement, one that is particular and not universal. When I question this, people are quick to point out Revelation and many passages about Israel in the Old Testament and some seem worried that I will be one of those humanistic believers who is in danger of being part of the “great falling away.” And guess what? Revelation does speak of God destroying and making war. We can’t deny this but maybe it is only one part to a more complete picture.
But, could it not be possible that God is coming to make war against injustice? And isn’t sin technically that-injustice? If we believe that loving God and others is the primary goal of Scripture, then this is exactly the case! People love to use Sodom and Gomorrah to point out a God of vengeance and destruction, obliterating a people because of their sexuality or immorality. But the prophets imply that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed as a result of injustice to the oppressed and pride (Isaiah 1:10-23 & Ezekiel 16:48-49).
Even the sexuality issue can’t be examined without admitting that it was exploitative. The people of the town desired rape-to conquer someone against their will and to use them for their own pleasure. This was likely something that they had done many times over if they expected it so publicly. God’s anger burned against such abuse being even accepted as the norm!
Furthermore, if we truly believe in Jesus as being the embodiment of God’s nature, this changes everything. Though the Old Testament is still very important, there was no true embodiment of God Himself to look to in it-not David, not Moses, no one! So, Jesus is our prime example. So, did Jesus show us that God is one of entitlement, favoritism or violence? Would he have hated and avoided his Muslim neighbor? I see quite the opposite! He consistently reached out to those who were despised or on the fringes of society, despite appearing to be a “compromiser” for doing so. He came and served humbly, not even acting out in violence when He was wrongfully accused.
The holiness that He showed us came out of love and humility and a passion for all of mankind-the Samaritan, the Roman, the Jew, women and men alike, the poor and rich, everyone! The Sermon on the Mount gives us an example of values that are completely opposite of the world’s inclinations but are how God’s Kingdom operates.
The God I see in scripture is one who would radically reach out and heal both the Muslim Palestinian chanting “Allahu Akbar,”ready to give his life, as well as the Israeli soldier on his way to carry out demolition orders- both symbols of fear or loathing to our peoples. In His Kingdom, both have rights and dignity that has been robbed them by the earthly situation we find ourselves in.
When I look at my generation of Israelis and Palestinians, I see very little hope or faith, whether in God or in government or in peace. I want this generation to examine what God actually says about Himself and the bigger picture He paints, demonstrating a God of hope and love who transcends the petty battles and oppression we see on a daily basis.
So, with that said, is God a God of War or Peace? Maybe He will show us that the purpose of any war or destruction in scripture is actually to rescue the oppressed and root out injustice and abuse. Maybe this was true of the wars He ordered in the Old Testament too and the wars He will continue to fight on our and the world’s behalf.