At first blush, that statement may seem a little redundant. You read it and say “Of course, loving God is easy. He’s God.” But, stop and think for a moment. At some point in your life, haven’t wanted to give God the finger? I know I have, more than once. There have been times when I’ve said out loud “What the h–l God?” There have been times when it seemed like He was piling stuff, one on top of the other, just to see how long I’d last before I started cursing. I’m in good company; the Bible is full of people yelling at God, wanting to know what they’ve done to deserve their current situation. A good portion of the Psalms do just that. But, Job is the perfect example. A good, God-fearing man who did all the right things and what happened to him? To make a point, God removed his protection from him and Satan took his health, wealth and family. Throughout the Old Testament, God is portrayed as harsh and judgmental. That’s the image the church has played up for centuries: the one that condemns you to eternal suffering and damnation because of what you did or didn’t do. In the New Testament, however, we see a God who loves us to make the ultimate sacrifice, taking all our sins upon himself. Loving God is easy? Says who; the dude is all over the place, so which one am I supposed to love?
Actually, most of the problems we have with God may be of our own making. Outside of natural disasters, could it be that much of the suffering we deal with is a result of either our own actions or those of someone else? That vindictive, judgmental dude that is so prevalent in the Old Testament? Maybe He was never like that. Maybe that was an image the people of that time could understand. But, what about Job, you ask? I know this will freak out the biblical literalists, but what if the story of Job was never meant to be taken literally, but instead was a poem about the nature of suffering and of God? What if we’ve gotten the wrong idea about hell and salvation, focusing on who’s out and not who’s in? That instead of listening to what Jesus said about giving up our stuff and taking care others, we obsess over that stuff. And that, instead of relying on God to provide for us as Jesus promised He would, we go to crazy lengths to make sure we have enough; an enough that doesn’t even begin to compare with what our Father will provide for us. The vindictive God portrayed in the Old Testament may be hard to love, but the one from the New Testament that Jesus proclaimed, the one who offers infinite grace? He’s not so bad.