Sins of the Father

March 15, 2010

Sins of the Father

On judgement day a great summons went forth to the sea, commanding that she give up her dead, and a voice called out to Hades demanding that the prisoners be released from their chains. Then the angels gathered up the whole of humanity and brought the masses to the great while throne of God. The noise was deafening, but when the mighty angel stood up and opened the great book of judgement, all living things fell silent.

The first to be judged stood up and approached the angel who held this great text. Once the accused entered the dock, all humanity rose up and spoke as one: “When we were hungry you gave us nothing to eat. When we were thirsty you gave us nothing to drink. We were strangers and you did not invite us in. We needed clothes and you did not clothe us. We were sick and in prison and you did not look after us.”

Once the accusation had been heard, silence once more descended upon all of creation. They had pronounced their judgement upon God and now waited to hear God’s defense.

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My friend Nate would say I’m already on permanent smite watch, so I don’t think I have anything to fear from this parable. Actually, I think the attitude revealed in this story is something that is sorely lacking in Christian circles. So often when horrible things happen people say things like, “God is in control of all things, and he must have meant for this to do you some good.” Really? That makes God sound horrible. Now, it may in fact be true that God is so far beyond human comprehension that the divine ways are past understanding, but I don’t think that excuses human callousness, shifting the blame to God in order to avoid dealing with the pain present in the moment.

It was not always thus. The name Israel connotes struggle. Abraham argued with God. Jonah straight up defied God. Job screamed to the heavens “WHY!?” after everything was taken from him. The Psalmists say “How long…?” Jeremiah weeps and wails at the fate of Israel. In the wake of the incredible persecution they have faced historically the Jews have gotten very good at looking back at God and saying, “So we’re the chosen people, huh? Where were you that time?” How did we get from these strugglers and strivers with the Lord to the meek people sitting in pews accepting that whatever crap comes their way comes from God and they probably deserve it anyway?

It is very clear from the stories we have in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments that God likes it when people engage and question. What do we have to do to regain our audacity in the face of God?

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