“Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever. For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed; the offspring of the wicked will perish. The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever” (Psalm 37:27-29).
Ours is a world full of passivity. It is riddled all over the news channels and the magazines. It is the complaint of many young females about their love interests, and it has even found its way deep into the one place it needs to be the least: The Church. Now, we complain about men being passive, but we desperately wish God was more passive. We angle verses every which way to avoid God’s judgment. We try to hide it, not realizing we are hiding something essential to understanding who God really is and what love really is.
God is a God of judgment- he repays evil. He fights evil with every part of himself and he hates the evil we enslave ourselves to. He is a warrior that will go to battle again and again for our hearts-and sometimes that is deeply messy and almost revolting gazed at it with human eyes. It pierces through our minds like absorbed bullets from 22s and in the form of thoughts like “How can God –this God- be good.”
So our instinct to bury our thoughts of doubt- thoughts of what scares us and causes us to avoid the hard passages- result in us tip toe-ing through these verses like a mine field. Even if it is unconscious, we label them “those that belong to the God of the Old Testament” – who’s basically an altogether different God. We give the “Old Testament God” his own little compartment, and then we turn all of our focus to the New Testament God- who very few people would can possibly call harsh. That’s the God we want. But that’s not God at all. We are losing half of him to our ignorant human opinions. We are losing the fight, the struggle, the assertion, the father who will protect his precious children no matter the cost. We lose the parent that cares so much for his child that he says no, or punishes him to guide him away from the choices that will lead him to a broken life.
No wonder we live in an increasingly passive generation. We demonize justice. We fail to intercede for those without voices. We watch those we love throw away their lives. Why do we watch others throw away their lives? We watch. We sit back in the name of compassion and let others turn down paths that lead to destruction, and meanwhile we are too self focused to run after them, to tell them the truth that hurts, to let them experience their consequences. Is that loving?
Maybe we’ve lost this with the Old Testament God we buried back in Genesis 1- Malachi 4. Maybe our fight is found within the heart-wrenching, tough pages. That God- in synthesis with the New Testament God- that is where we find true goodness and true love. What good is a father who passively watches his child summersault down a pathway that is only a downward spiral into danger? There is no love in watching someone walk back into slavery to something that will destroy them. There is no love in allowing someone to bring destruction not only on themselves, but on everyone around them.
Yes, the Lord has standards, and sometimes we see judgment, and it is easy to see this warrior God and want passivity. His love without his judgment is not him though, it is only a part of him. Love without justice is not complete. Think of the Bible, think of Jesus having to die to make a way for His children. That is ultimate love. That is ultimate justice. That is where the two meet in a beautiful, hard place. The harmony of the New Testament and the Old Testament creates a beautiful picture of true goodness- judgment and love together in a Person.
words by Savannah Cooper and photo by Sarah Mohan