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Monday, March 22, 2010

Did God Convert?

There is an oft-told story of little Billy in Bible class. In the Bible class the teacher was talking about the difference between God the Father in the Old Testament and God the son, Jesus, in the New Testament. She was saying something to the effect of, "Alright class, in the Old Testament, God was a God of anger, but in the New Testament, God was a God of mercy. In the Old Testament, God was a jealous God, but in the New Testament, God shared his life with people. In the Old Testament, God was a God of hate. But in the New Testament, God was a God of love. Now class, why do you suppose that was so?"

Little Billy raised his hand and waved it under the teacher's nose and repeated over and over again, "I know! I know!"

Finally the teacher called on him. "Alright Billy, what's the answer?"

"It is because in the New Testament, God became a Christian," Billy proudly explained.

At one time in my life, I had an incorrect view of the God of the Old Testament, just like the teacher and just like Billy. I considered Him cruel, always mad at somebody, or to put it more colloquially, he always played "bad cop" to Jesus' "good cop."

God did not change. God has always been the same. Here are two examples: justice and mercy. Two of God’s chief attributes, and it has always been this way, are justice and mercy. Even in the Old Testament. Micah 6:6-8 tells us:

With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Do you catch the significance of that? The writer is saying sure, "church services" are important, of course doctrine is important, but those things do not matter if one is not acting justly, maintaining an attitude of humility, and if one is not merciful. Justice and mercy is important to God because both have always been a part of God's character.

Our response is to walk humbly with Him.

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