Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Musings

The title of the Sunday school lesson today was "God will honor those who honor him." Now, that is a conditional premise. If I honor God, he will honor me. The implication is that, if I don't honor God, he won't honor me. God, therefore, does not love unconditionally, but conditionally. That seems to fly in the face of everything I believe and know about God. I believe he does love unconditionally. The ramifications of our bad behavior toward him or toward anyone else or even toward ourselves operate independent of His love and devotion to us. That's what I believe.

Now, thinking about that notion --- you respect me and I'll respect you --- I try to reconcile it with the Golden rule, which says, as I recall, that I should do to others what I would want them to do to me.

The two notions seem to be in conflict with each other. If God will only honor me if I honor him then he is not following the admonition to do to others what you want them to do to you. I believe God will honor me because he wants me to honor him. And I should want to honor him because I want to be honored by him. The lesson seems to have it backward.

I wish though when we talk about these Old Testament cases we could utilize a different Bible than the King James version that the church insists on us using. It's very irritating to have to wade through prose that is difficult to understand when prose that is more modern and easy to grasp is available.

In any event, Eli's sons are a little out of control --- and that's putting it mildly, because the scripture says they were sons of Belial --- and they were doing things they shouldn't be doing according to Eli and according to the traditions and commandments of their religion. And so Eli, like most parents, takes them to task. He tells them they are setting a bad example and make the faithful people also transgress (which seems like a non sequitur). Eli goes on to say that if a person sins against another person, a judge will sit in judgment and impose, in essence, some sanction or punishment. If they sin against the Lord, Eli asks rhetorically, who will judge them then? He goes on to say that if they didn't follow the counsel of him, their father, the Lord would slay them.

Hmmm. Curious. What exactly is meant there? The Lord kills people for doing evil against him? Well, does he? It seems to me there are plenty of influences around in real life where that hasn't and doesn't happen, where people are warned by good, wholesome people not to do evil or not to do this or that which seems simple, yet people still do it and doing it would be, at least in the view of the faithful person, a sin against God. Yet, we don't see God taking revenge and killing the individual for their behavior. Of course, the argument can always be made that in the end God gets them, just as he gets all of us because we die.

In 1 Samuel 2:30 it suggests that God will honor those who honor him and those who despise him he will esteem lightly. The verses after that go on to talk about cutting off arms and killing people and destroying progeny, if I understand it correctly.

I just don't understand how you reconcile the two notions. God wants us to love one another. Yet killing is not thought of as showing love but hate.

I think the Old Testament manifests the inclination of man to put words into God's mouth and make him something He isn't at all. It is man's inclination to mimic others and to scapegoat whenever mankind gets into trouble.

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