The God of the Bible surely is not like the God of terrorists who supposedly thinks that controlling or destroying free, moral decisions results in true love. God pursued a friendship than demanding obedience in hopes of changing the world for good. The God of the Old Testament and God in the flesh in the New Testament encouraged loving others like you want to be loved. Jesus got His dander up the most with the religious elite, the Pharisees, because they portrayed God as demanding obedience rather than desiring a relationship. Jesus knew true religion is self-sacrificing rather than self-serving. No human or spiritual parent brings children into the world not desiring their children freely reciprocate their love as opposed to being forced.
The God of the Bible is clearly not like the god of the Jihadists or extreme Islamist believers. It turns out God does not have anything in common with religious extremists concerning freedom of beliefs, women’s rights, or the killing of women and children. God was a respecter of freedom of beliefs from the very beginning; otherwise, God who is powerful enough to create would annihilate immediately those who oppose God by choosing evil. God’s judgments and declarations of war against other nations were not because of a refusal to worship God, but because people were involved in despicable immoral acts such as child sacrifice. If such nations existed today where child sacrifices were a ritual, war may be the most humane action.
God doesn’t require obedience or God would not allow so much evil in the world. Unfortunately, God is portrayed more as a God of wrath than love in the Bible. God’s wrath or tough love was only to deter people from self-destruction. Fear-based theology is a misguided attempt to control our behaviors. God never thought fear led to life-changing transformations. Has gloomy uncertainty as to God’s favor conquered your battles against self-centeredness or long-standing habitual sins? Having an intimate friendship with God is what really transforms us into the kind of person we want to be.
A relationship with God, rather than an emphasis on rules and obedience, is our necessary nourishment to conquer our battle against self-centeredness. The fear of God doesn’t lead to changed hearts. When we feel a meaningful bond with our parents, we are more motivated to follow their guidance which often is in our best interest. Closer relationships, either personal or spiritual, are what inspire us to be the kind of persons we deep down truly want to be. God’s love is the same as perfect, human love. Jesus laid His life down so we might understand how much we are loved by our Creator. Understanding who God really is which leads to true intimacy, inspires us toward life transformations and helps face the challenges of an unfriendly world.
Human parents surely do not understand relationships better than our Creator. Parents know the fear of punishment is only meant to encourage their child to run from evil and is not what the relationship is based on. Parents understand a friendship gained over time will help children to know us and act on our guidance which should always be in their best interests. Our obedience has absolutely nothing to do with God’s love for us. It only effects how we feel about our relationship with God. God grieves selfish choices because of the pain it will cause His children.
It is important to understand the reason for the Cross. The gods of the Old Testament would sometimes demand the sacrifice of children to be appeased. Jesus did not die to appease God’s anger and honor so they could love us. God is not more offended by what sin does to God than what sin does to us. The Cross was not meant to change God’s attitude but our attitude toward God. Jesus walked in our shoes, even facing undeserved suffering, to gain credibility and influence. God is not blood-thirsty Creator. God much preferred a “broken and contrite heart” (Ps. 51: 16-17). God went to great means to convince us of their unimaginable love and that their ways were truly in our best interests if we only listened to our hearts.
It is important to understand the traditional meaning and understanding of Hell, where you will burn forever after death for not believing in God while on earth, is a fabrication that doesn’t exist in the Bible. Hell, not a translation but a substitution for certain Hebrew and Greek words, is an invention over the centuries to scare people into submission and obedience. Misinformed interpretations of the Bible are one of the main reasons for unhealthy interactions for some who believe in the God of the Bible. Obviously, killing innocent people is not the same as a fire and brimstone speech. As it turns out God is a respecter of freedom in this life and life after death.
God doesn’t worry about giving us a license to keep sinning. Sin has its own consequences. You can’t yell at your partner and expect to have any kind of relationship. God’s anger doesn’t bring about desired reconciliation. A priority on God’s unconditional love does not do away with holiness but makes it possible. There is no fear in the presence of true love. God did not create laws to build a relationship. The law simply helps protect the innocent, where there is lawlessness, and hopefully points us toward our need for a relationship with our Creator. The law can’t speak about matters of the heart and actions that lead to regrets eventually.
How do we combat terrorism and misguided ideology? Men who videotape beheadings are simply evil and sometimes the only way to combat such evil is to destroy it. We must confront and inform the law, even on our own family members, when we notice beliefs that can lead to blowing up innocent people. One hint terrorists are misguided is they don’t just blow themselves up to spread their gospel. Jesus didn’t come to conquer the evil Roman Empire; Jesus sacrificed His own life to influence others.
But, what about women who leave their infants with family members and go out and kill innocent people? This may be an evil that we can fight against with more than just guns in the beginning. In the beginning during the radicalization process we can try to convince others of their irrational beliefs. Some may be open to discussions of our and their beliefs. Those who believe in the Creator of the universe must be able to defend how their God believes in the freedom of beliefs. Fear-based ideology that attempts to control our behaviors is wrong. Any religion that is based on control than service is not truly religious.