Emmanuel

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What story do we tell?

what story do we tellMy father used to tell the scariest “hell” stories that you could imagine.  No matter who he talked to about God, if he ran into an argument or an attitude that he needed to move into a more submissive role – out came the big picture of what the end of the world would look like.  Everyone ended up agreeing with my dad – “heaven” was  a much better place to live.  Who by the way wants to be labeled a heathen?

That was his day – all kinds of end time movies, prophecies put on film, ministers who saw what the end of the world looked like and dire warnings that if we do not straighten up we were going to roast – forever.

Today it’s different.  Ministers are now siding with the theology that hell is not forever, at some point God annihilates it.  The multifaith contingent  believes we will all go to heaven for God is a God of love.  Those prophets of yesteryear have all proven to be wrong in their timetables.  Just try to find a worship song that even hints at repentance or coming clean before God.

So what does a guy in today’s world do when he confronts the word of God that describes quite visibly how the world will end and what happens to those who follow Christ and those who do not?  What story do I tell?

I think I have the joy of telling both.  I really push the idea that God is love and yet have the opportunity of describing tough love in the family context of raising children as the set of boundaries that all families have in place.  Then there are consequences if those boundaries are crossed.  No big deal – we can all make our own choices and each choice has its own reward.

So I trust in the adult inside each one of us to comprehend that and to make the choice.  If I go in denial and create my own rules of how I can make it to heaven – that is my choice – and I will take the consequence for that decision.  That includes making up my own entrance criteria, following religion, being as good as I can be or being so generous that I buy my way in – those are my decisions and they come with their own consequences.

I can only pray that my walk with God is something that is so real that after spending some time  with those I have had the opportunity to tell the story will see the integrity of such a walk – not my integrity, but God’s.  He is so faithful – He has never lied, always kept His promises, walks with me even on the days I do not want to walk with Him or think I can do it on my own.  My testimony is empty, my testimony to His love is real.  He makes the difference – that is the story to tell – He is the difference and sent His Son to make sure we not only heard the story, but saw it in action.

“We give thanks to thee, Lord God Almighty, who art and who wast,
that thou hast taken thy great power and begun to reign.
The nations raged, but thy wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
for rewarding thy servants, the prophets and saints,
and those who fear thy name, both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”

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4 Comments

  1. nopew says:

    I appreciate the calm and gentle way you speak of things that must be said. With God being pictured as extremes (warm and fuzzy or brutal Judge) the Good News paints a wider picture, as you point out, of options and consequences. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
    Peace

  2. dugnmis says:

    What story do you tell? Tell the only story that is true. Christ did not come to condemn the world. The world is already condemned. He came out of love to draw every man, no matter what we’ve done or who we are to Himself. The way to a life of love, joy, peace is not through religion or good works, but through faith believing that a loving relationship with Christ brings fulfillment. Christ came to keep us from ruining our lives with self-focus.

    Hell is real. The problem with telling the story of end times, Hell, fire and brimstone is that a fulfilled life and a loving relationship with the Creator is not completely attained through a life trying to avoid Hell. It becomes a life of fear of God and his retaliation. So we try to appease God, build a righteous resume or earn his love. I am reminded that God’s Word declares that even our righteous acts are filthy rags. It is not just evil works that fall short and keep us from communion with God, but even our righteousness. Love casts out fear.

    Never doubt telling the story of God’s love. The more we understand the unconditional, sacrificial love of the God of creation, the more we will worship and adore Him. This life of worship is what God desires and deserves. God is deserving of our love and worship, not because He is a strict, disciplinarian, but because He first loved us. A disciplinarian expects you to behave and rewards your good behavior. A loving God accepts you as you are and works with you to accomplish good works. Love is the better tone to use when telling the story.

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“Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emman′u-el” (which means, God with us)." Matthew 1:23 RSV

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