Time flies so fast these days. Were we not just having our foreheads brushed with ash recently? It is now Palm Sunday. Five weeks have passed since.
I have recently downloaded "The Bible", the mini-series from the History Channel, and the most-watched series in 2013 in the US. I must say that it is refreshing to watch the stories retold. Since they had to compress it to 10 episodes, they had to take liberties and choose which events to highlight. I like the way they stitched together the stories, with a richly historical (versus just Biblical) context. I am just on Ep 6, so I am just about to transition to the New Testament.
A dear friend, a high school classmate, once told me that he stopped being Catholic. He never bothered to engage me in conversation before, because he felt I would not be 'prepared' to listen to him. But I did ask him, finally, about why he stopped. He answered simply. He just couldn't accept a "God" that was so selfish as to demand to be worshipped and praised, or else. Why would a "God" be so insecure?
That got me thinking. I put a lot of weight in his point of view for I respect my friend so much. He is the most intelligent in the batch, yet he has remained so humble and unassuming. Finally hearing him tell me this just made me think. I actually didn't bother to even answer him. I didn't know what to say.
He is right. Even as I watched "The Bible", the stories of a vengeful God wreaking destruction on those who dared worship other deities are plentiful. Why was God so 'human', jealous and insecure, even before He gave us Jesus Christ as a human being?
I began analyzing and rationalizing. (And that is a disclaimer. These are just my thoughts.)
Could this 'jealousy/insecurity' actually be needed then? Did it serve a purpose of making people (the Jewish people) follow more righteous path?
Worshipping and praising God could or should not exist without good works, without justice and righteousness. If one truly believes that God should be worshipped, he/she should also believe in the commandments and laws that God himself created. Requiring His people to always worship and praise him actually meant requiring them to be 'good people', righteous and loving. If He wavered and allowed them to 'worship other gods', then there was no assurance that they would continue to follow His commandments. And God knows (pun intended) what this people may end up doing!
He had to be 'jealous' to make sure that His laws were followed. Moreover, if there was no fear of divine retribution, the people then would have no reason to continue to be 'faithful' to God and the commandments.
But I also note how all this evolved during the New Testament. With Jesus, it was no longer just "don't do this", it was "do it with love." He gave a loving dimension to all that we do. Hence, the greatest commandment became "You shall love the Lord God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength." I believe that at this time, the Jewish people were 'ready' to follow based on love rather than fear. And this is reinforced by what Jesus said "I have come not to abolish the law but to fulfill it." Fulfilling the law meant getting to the 'spirit' of the law, and that spirit was simply 'love.'
It is no longer jealousy. It is simply integrity. "If you love me, you will do as I say." Following the Lord God will come from loving Him wholeheartedly, with no reservation. And we become good people, righteous and loving, because of our obedience to and love of Him.
Again, these are just my thoughts. This probably how I would answer him when we see each other again, if he feels like listening.
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