All of us have seen the signs of the fringe, so-called, Christian group that protest at military funerals. They seem to have the belief that they know exactly who God hates. Now they are planning to protest at the funeral of Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played Spock in the Star Trek series! Ridiculous! Their poisoned view of God actually makes God weak!
As if all the sins and mistakes of all the people in the world who have ever lived all combined together and multiplied by a thousand plus ten could overpower God’s love and peace! Really, God’s peace and God’s love is weaker than human sins? If that’s the case then we’re all doomed.
But it isn’t the case. The truth is we created humans have no power over God. Individually, our sins can never overpower Him. Collectively, our sins cannot exhaust Him. If that were remotely possible, He would not be God. Taking this further, if you think for one second that God “can’t” forgive you and that you have sinned so much that not even God Himself can redeem you, then you’re worshipping an idol and not the God of the Church or the Scriptures. And your arrogance and pride have reached a level that you believe yourself so powerful that your sins overcome God’s mercy. Dearest, that is delusion at the highest level. You just ain’t that powerful.
But somehow our human pride and “I’m the center of the universe” attitude so pollute our thoughts that we diminish God in our eyes. This human poverty is at the heart of our greatest temptation and challenge in becoming a true lover of God and not merely using God to “make me happy.” This Orthodoxy Way calls us to a true change of mind and life even when we are feeling bad about ourselves!
All three of our Scripture Lessons today really drive this point home. Isaiah 6:1-12 shows us that the Lord is “high and lifted up” and He not only calls us to His service, but prepares us for that service as well. Genesis 5:1-24 has Moses recalling the lives of the ancients and ends with the story of Enoch, that mysterious figure who left a legacy that he “walked with God!” Kinda reminds you of Adam’s relationship with God before the Fall. The passage ends with the cryptic words “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24)
But the passage from Proverbs is what really calls us from arrogance to humility. This passage reveals that there are some things God hates, but it isn’t people!
Look at the passage:
Then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into your neighbor’s power: go, hasten, and importune your neighbor. Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber; save yourself like a gazelle from the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer or ruler, she prepares her food in summer, and gathers her sustenance in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a vagabond, and want like an armed man. A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, scrapes with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.
There are six things which the LORD hates, seven which are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and a man who sows discord among brothers. My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. (Proverbs 6:3-12)
Each item the writer mentions is how someone misuses the faculties the Lord has given us all. From eyes to tongue to hands to heart to feet to mind, and even our human ability to influence; all misused to selfish ends. God hates these things. Do you know why He hates them? He hates them because these things destroy persons God loves. He doesn’t hate them because they “offend” Him. How childish. No, He hates these things because of the destructive power they wield in the lives of people He created and for whom He died and rose again.
These 7 things God hates reveals a truth that is often too wonderful for us to believe: God loves us more than we, ourselves, know how to love. And, even at His most angry, He is kinder than men when they are most kind. Let’s face it, you simply cannot out sin God’s mercy, and that very truth is the only motivation that will keep you awake to how you use His good gifts. God hates our selfish behavior BECAUSE that lifestyle hurts US, not Him.
Today, are you gripped with the narcissistic lie that God “can’t” forgive you? Are you trapped in behaviors that are self-destructive? Falling for that old slander against God that He is “angry” with you or is “disappointed in you” is all a trick of the evil one to keep you a slave. God is too humble to be angered by petty human sins. No, He hates what He hates because what He hates hurts you, and He loves you so very much. Even more than you, yourself, know how to love. Let’s abandon the prideful notion of a God Who hates people and embrace the Orthodox understanding of our God Who hates what hurts people. That’s being Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Are you keeping the Fast of Great Lent? Did you know one of the best disciplines to help us stay faithful during Lent is the practice of Silence? In fact, it is this way of Hesychia that builds into our daily lives the wakefulness of our souls to God’s love and mercy. Fr. Philip Zymaris of Holy Cross Seminary joins me this Sunday to talk about this discipline of the faith! Listen this Sunday to an all new Faith Encouraged LIVE program as we discuss the Way of Silence. That’s Sunday at 8 PM on AncientFaith.com