Genocide, Oppression, and Punishment

For fall 2018, I’ll be teaching a class called Understanding the Bible at Seeds Church in Middle Tennessee.

This is week 10. Genocide, Oppression, and Punishment – answers to the question of God’s role in the so-called Canaanite Genocide and eternal punishment in Hell.

Handout  | Audio 


I Know God is in control. But I Don’t Trust God.

God is real. There really is a massively big, super powerful being that created everything, knows everything and is in control of everything. I believe this. And it scares me.

I’m not afraid of God because I believe He loves me. Well, I work to believe that. I want to believe that.

I don’t struggle with this because I think I’m unloveable. Actually, I most likely suffer from the opposing viewpoint too often. I think I’m great. Fat and egotistical, but great.

I’m afraid of God because I don’t trust him. Let me give you an example of why:

Several years ago I was getting coffee with my friend Christopher at a Starbucks. We worked together so could take breaks together occasionally.  Christopher, who is a Christian, was in a funk at the time and wasn’t going to church.

As I was talking to him about this, sitting in the super comfortable chairs in the center of the cafe, a lady who had been there when we got in and was sitting nearby doing homework sat up and asked us if we were Christians. I said yes. Christopher said sorta.

And it was on. This lady took Christopher to task for backsliding and not taking God seriously. It was awesome. She was so gutsy and honest! Calling out a stranger in the middle of Starbucks?! (Angels in Heaven were no doubt doing the We Will Rock You thing clapping and stomping.)

I was mesmerized and needed to know more about her. I asked who she was and how she came to be there today. She said she was a cheerleader coach. (Whaaaaaat?!)

She said that at practice one of the girls had fallen and broke their ankle so she left early and decided to get a head start on some college course work. Then she said she forgot her wallet at home and so had to drive back to get it and then it was late and she needed a coffee so she got off the first exit looking for a Starbucks. There she sat when we walked in and started discussing Christopher and his churchlessness.

As we left one of us – this lady or me – said to Christopher, “God must really love you to make all these things happen just to get you to come back to Him.”

That is a powerful story about God works all things out for His glory and our good. It is a store about God being in control. God was in control years earlier when this lady was learning to be a cheerleader herself after seeing, hearing or reading about her cousin, sister or mom do it. He was in control when when that person learned to live cheer. He was in control decades before when cheerleading was introduced to high schools. And way before that when humans learned to dance. You get the idea.

God was also in control when that girl fell and broke her ankle.

I’m afraid of God’s control because I’m afraid of being that girl in someone else’s story. It’s trust that I lack. Trust that He has my good in mind as well and is control of ordering my steps in such a way that if I were the cheerleader the rest of the story works out better than it ever would have.

Trust. The reason I don’t trust is because I want to be in control. The reason I want to be in control is because I’m selfish.

When I spoke to friends recently about this lack of trust I found that this was a universal doubt. One friend said, “That’s the story of mankind going all the way back to the garden. The first sin was really all about rusting God. ‘Did God really say you would die?'”

How do we fix this then? How do we learn to trust. That same friend said, “This is why the Jews passed down all the stories in the Bible. The repeated what God had done to show God’s consistency. How He was always three for them.”

Another friend suggested that we focus on God’s character, “When I feel this way I read about who God is. I focus on His love and His promises to us.”