“Good horror examines the struggle between good and evil. The Bible is the history of that struggle. The Bible is in many ways the ultimate horror novel.” Rev. Paul F.M. Zahl, author of Grace in Practice
This quote is from an article about Stephen King, posted by CNN (see link below). After reflecting on Zahl’s words, I had to agree with what he was trying to communicate. Of course, the Bible isn’t a novel because it’s not a work of fiction, but horror stories are plentiful in the Bible. Here’s a small list of examples:
- The story of Adam and Eve
- The murder of Abel
- The Plagues of Egypt
- The story of Job
- Saul and the Medium
- The Crucifixion of Christ
- The story of Ananias and Sapphira
- The Stoning of Stephen
- The Book of Revelation (sometimes called The Apocalypse of John)
Some of the stories chronicle the wickedness of mankind, and some reveal the fearsome nature of God, the “cruel” side of God, as some would call it. Many who dislike the Word of God point to these passages and others as some kind of proof that God is not really good and kind.
The Bible is a book of full disclosure. God reveals that we should fear Him. And, God proclaims that He loves us. And, God makes it clear that he hates all sin.
God doesn’t hide His nature from us, and He doesn’t lie to us about the consequences of sin, either. In contrast, Satan lies to us about both God’s nature and the consequences of sin.
“I am who I am.” He is who He is.Take Him or leave Him. Is it cruel to reveal this knowledge to us? I think the problem is we would prefer not to think about the wholeness of God.
The Wholeness of God
God has two, complementary sides. He is the God of Judgment. The God of Discernment. The God of Wisdom. And, Judgment, Discernment, and Wisdom have two sides:
1) The Positive Side of God’s Judgment, Discernment, and Wisdom is the ability to see:
- The good.
- The truly beautiful. (This is the beauty human eyes cannot or will not see.)
- The righteous.
- The real motive.
- The best solution.
- All the superlatives of bright possibility.
2) The Negative Side of God’s Judgment, Discernment, and Wisdom is the ability to see:
- The evil.
- The ugly. (Again, ugly is not based on our imperfect human perception.)
- The tainted.
- The wicked intent.
- The unfairly weighted measure of compromised scruples.
- All the depths of dark perversion.
We want the easy road, and God has given us the freedom to make our choice. We were created for His glory, but we may choose to dishonor Him. Our choice. Our sin. But, even though we are imperfect and under the influence of Satan, He has provided the necessary redemption through Christ to make us right in His court of Judgment. And, again, it’s our choice–to receive the gift of mercy or to shove it away.
God Must be Just to be Merciful
How does the old song by Nick Lowe go? “You’ve gotta’ be cruel to be kind…” Not that I agree with the message of the song, but if God causes us pain by revealing His whole self to us, then His “cruelty” is motivated by His kindness, the will and the love to let us know He is both just and merciful.
The horror story of the Bible is this: When the Judgment occurs and Justice prevails, the Mercy that God made freely available to all will go unclaimed by most.
Have you claimed God’s mercy through Christ?
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- Why does God have to seem so judgmental? (jimrenke.com)
- Are you fearful? (wordsofgrace.wordpress.com)
- The Gospel of Stephen King