Two Faced God? (Part 2)

Two Faced God? (Part 2)

…May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy. May he crush the oppressor…For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted ones who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight…Then all nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed.
— Psalm 72

When I read this passage, I see a God who is ready to fight oppression so that the whole world will be blessed, very different than the view of God that many people are given, as mentioned in part 1. In a region where some blood seems to be deemed more precious than others, it is no small thing that the blood of the oppressed is not forgotten by God Himself.

The deaths of many in this past summer’s war in Gaza were not meaningless in His sight, regardless of where people attribute blame or try to point fingers. In addition, the deaths of many throughout the years at the hands of terrorists are also not forgotten by God. Both Israelis and Palestinians are no strangers to seeing innocent civilians blood shed and the God of peace abhors this!

So, why again did He seem to command or lead wars in other parts of Scripture? I think this is where we have to step back and look at the bigger picture.  Perhaps certain societies were so unjust, bloodthirsty and oppressing the peoples around them that He burned with anger against them and wanted a people set apart in order to be just, to be holy like Him, spreading peace and goodness and to ultimately bring His love and justice to an unjust world. So, maybe He was warring more against oppression than just punishing people because of their race. From the overall understanding I get of God’s nature, this is what I see.

In fact, does the passage given above say that He will mainly focus on blessing one group or one people?  No, He will fight oppression and then bless all peoples. And because He is so good, all peoples will bless Him! They will want to bless Him because He gives them dignity as they are, in their own cultures and their own context, and they can be a part of the beautiful and diverse kingdom that is His.

I recently had a conversation with a leader who told me that the truth “offends the mind” and that God’s sense of justice is different than our own. He said this after I asked him why it seemed so few people in my community were speaking out against the Israeli government snatching land arbitrarily after the Gaza War, as if the war didn’t cause enough pain! Or why so many were justifying the rights of certain people to just place themselves on someone else’s land and claim it as their own.

While I am sure God’s standard of justice is far above and better than my own, I can’t comprehend how all peoples will bless Him if His sense of justice means that he condones stealing land in a way that contradicts everything in His own word. If that is God’s way, then He seems to be inconsistent and arbitrary. And then the people who are losing their lands and their rights are supposed to turn around and bless Him?!

Both in that conversation and in many conversations with people in my faith, Islam is given as the cause, the way to deflect guilt. Muslims are seen as the feared “other” and their oppression is just a consequence of their choosing Islam over truth.

But this is a copout. This is a way for us to not take responsibility for the daily evils that our own people are witnessing or committing each day. It makes us apathetic. It robs us of the voice we are supposed to have and the action we are supposed to take for justice and peace. Ultimately, it makes us reflect the world, not God.

To reflect Him, we must react with humility and dignity towards the “other,” including Muslims. I’m not saying reach out in order to convert or reach out to see if we can enlighten them. But actually reach out without an agenda and without fear or propaganda. Just bless them as humans created in His image just as we are.   

This is how I see Jesus, who was and is God in bodily form, reaching out to all people. His agenda was one of love. I see no example of Him justifying oppression but rather reaching out to those who were despised by leaders and by the majority. And He never asked them to assimilate and become like the majority just because they were now “enlightened.” He gave them dignity and courage to live as lights in a context that would not accept them and to bring that to others.

So, if we are waiting for God to come riding in on a white horse to avenge us from “the other” or to save a small minority while punishing everyone else, I think we have to tread very carefully. Because this is not the God I have seen and not how he seems to want us to position ourselves towards mankind.

And if we think that God will somehow bless us over others, or that the government and worldly powers will ultimately welcome us and so we should strive to impress them, or that we can buy into consumerism’s promises just like the world, then I would argue we are in the greatest danger of being part of the “great falling away” that some like to attribute to overly “humanistic believers.” And if we use His promises to justify our own sense of entitlement, our sense of self-righteousness or our own acceptance of injustice, then I argue that we are actually profaning His name.  

I know who I plan to emulate and He was a revolutionary who showed us that God was not exactly who leaders or the mainstream said He was, even when they justified it by Scripture.  And no, that’s not making God into my own universal humanist model, it’s actually following who God showed us He is, which has always caused discomfort and shaken paradigms.

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