Here again, we are confronted with the kindness of the New Testament juxtaposed with the harshness of the Old Testament. Through the dichotomy between the two, we recognize the many vast differences between how people think of God and how Jesus reveals God. One of the greatest differences is what people think God expects of us versus what God actually expects of us. This dichotomy is not only between the Testaments but also within the Old Testament, as prophets and psalmists highlight the goodness, gentleness, and mercy of God in stark contrast with some of the other writers of the Hebrew text.
Jesus taught us to interpret all the Scriptures through God’s perspective of love instead of through the perspective of fear. Faithfulness to the Biblical text includes attention to the voice of God as revealed through the love of Christ. Even through the most troublesome passages, the Bible speaks to us of God’s loving presence and providence.
Christ teaches us to emulate the goodness and kindness of God. That’s what we are invited to focus on, even though there are plenty of distractions in the world and even in the Bible. John wrote, “Perfect love casteth out fear.” The eternal life of God’s heavenly realm is bestowed on us as a free gift. By following Christ in kindness and trusting the kindness of our Creator, we are participants in the emerging kingdom of God “on earth, as it is in heaven.”
Excerpt from the manuscript of the sermon preached by
Rev. Bill Lawson on July 2, 2023, at Briensburg UMC.
Cover Image Photo by Jana Wersch. “Give Water,” 2015. Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/photos/water-water-bottle-drink-sports-830374/ 30 June 2023.