In response to your “Jesus loves you” post, recently I’ve been hearing a lot about how God doesn’t love everyone (I’m still learning). And after thinking about it, it’s pretty true that God doesn’t give grace all the time (He owns entire tribes of people, Great Flood, etc) and does explicitly say that He hates certain people (God loved Jacob but hated Esau). How do I reconcile that, or more importantly, how to I tell non-believers that?
You know, I hear a question underneath the question here.
None of this will probably ever compute for a non-believer. When we isolate a few things from the Bible and dig into “Why-God-Why,” then we’re missing the point of what God is doing in history. Most people who bring up these things make it into a “Yeah gotcha!” — as if picking apart Bible semantics somehow erases what Jesus did for us. But I’ll play along and tackle the theology first.
Please allow me the grace to get pastoral-nerdy here. One day when I raise my future children, I will most definitely have to discipline them. This means time-out, fifty push-ups, mow the lawn, or I take away everything they own (which I bought them anyway). This temporal act of unpleasant discipline does NOT change the reality that I love them, but actually enforces it. At the moment they might think, “I wish I had a different dad,” but their bloodline and my father-status can never change.
God, who exists outside of time, often uses temporal acts that appear to be pretty dang rough. I’ve sincerely struggled with the Old Testament because it’s full of bloody, bizarre, outrageous acts of divine intervention that don’t always make sense. But in the greater context of each temporal action, God retains a timeless nature over us that is inflexible. He can also see the Bigger Picture, and His discipline is an eternal vision for our story. God in macro is love; God in micro does not always appear so.
As someone once said, “God often uses what He hates to achieve what He loves.” That’s a pat answer for cancer, car accidents, and earthquakes, but we also remember this broken world is not our final home, and God’s love is a finale that transcends our passage of time on this earth.