Milestones and Millstones

Monday Musings for February 21, 2022

Good morning, Musers,

Offenses to children seem to score higher on the awfulness scale than do offenses to adults. Jesus taught that childlike faith was the gold standard — and that causing such a one to stumble was a millstone-around-the-neck-and-be-thrown-into-the-sea type of offense. Children are a big deal in reality... and children are a big deal metaphorically. Don’t mess with children!

Unless you are Abraham, of course... whom God told to really mess with his child! But here, the father of our faith foreshadowed the faith of our fathers with the sacrifice of his son Isaac. But note this well: it was the near-sacrifice of Isaac. God the Father had to go all the way with Jesus.

When it comes to complaining about God, how he deals with children is often on the top of the list... followed by how he (ostensibly) devalues women, misunderstands homosexuals, etc. These alleged targets of his ham-handedness support the anti-God polemic, but they mask the main issue. God’s critics build a bogeyman-god to scare each other. In logic, we call this “strawmanning.” ... but in this case, I think “bogeymanning” is a more precise term.

But our God is no bogeyman. That’s more descriptive of classical gods of Greece and Rome. They doled out punishment arbitrarily — and they were much more petulant than they were beneficent! But our God wants a relationship with every person who ever existed! This is extraordinary and emotionally risky for God… because we, his creatures, may dismiss his advances.

You see, any relationship worth having is voluntary... and many will refuse God’s offer of salvation through Jesus Christ (John 3:16); many will also ignore the Father’s drawing (John 6:44). But they won’t be able to ignore his judgment… not forever. It might look like they are living fast-and-loose and getting away with it, but redemption is a process, and processes take time.

Part of that process is that people are sinning — and children often get hurt as a byproduct. Children rely on adults... and adults do not always rise to the challenge. But if God changed these people to get a better result for children, they would no longer have free will… and the creation itself has no purpose in the absence of beings who may choose to glorify or reject God.

Salvation is the process by which God returns humankind to himself. But it is a process on both sides. God tested humankind and found that they were sinners... beings who could not have fellowship with a holy God. So, he provided an acceptable sacrifice for our sin through his Son.

We humans have to sort through all of God’s revelations and make decisions. These processes take time. Sometimes horrific things happen during those times that God could have stopped — but did not. That’s the goad. God could-have-but-he-didn’t. He sticks that right into the critics’ sides. But why pick that fight? To let them know that he sees the big picture... and they do not.

How God brings many sons to salvation is his business — and those processes may cause the suffering of children! For many people, that is categorically unacceptable. But what if sacrificing some of them would result in saving more of them — even a hundredfold? Would that be okay?

 

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