Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your desires with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
– David, Third King of Israel and Judah (1035-970 BC), from Psalm 103
I hear from many people now who are leaving Christianity. Most are in their fifties or sixties and have lived their lives as religious Christians. They haven’t lost their faith at all, but rather they have simply outgrown Christianity’s pathetic promise of a get-out-of-hell-free card so long as we keep warming the pews. Most of them are devoted to Jesus and believe in God sincerely, no matter how they feel about the religion; but they know there has to be a lot more to God! They seek to better understand what is true. They often seem to me to be touchingly like teenagers, people who have lived their lives as spiritual children and are only now wondering how it might feel to become real spiritual adults. Perhaps they’ve found YouTubes from the period when I was making YouTubes, or they’ve found my interviews with George Noory on Gaia TV; and whatever I said made them think I held a key to the door they have been trying to open. So they write and ask me various questions that generally include their wanting reassurance that God won’t smite them for having had a few independent thoughts.
The fact that people earnestly trying to follow the Jesus of the Gospels might ever worry about God’s wrath is a sharp indictment of Christianity! We have talked here at perhaps tedious length about the pagan roots of the Christian God, the burden of human–made Christian dogmas, and the fact that, like all fear-based religions, Christianity as it is being practiced can be spiritually counterproductive. We have talked this topic to death! But as I answer questions from Christian seekers who keep circling back to their deep-seated terrors of a God that is nothing like the genuine Godhead, I realize I still haven’t done enough to help you understand the breathtaking chasm of difference that yawns between the God of the Christians and the genuine, eternal Godhead that Jesus first introduced to us.
The Christian God is a benevolent king. What other sort of God could ancient people have invented? God is powerful, but God is fair. He expects us to submit and to toe His line, and in return He will supply our needs; but if we disobey, we will feel God’s wrath. And since He is God, that is right and just. The Christian God is a ruthless totalitarian ruler. And for millennia, most people have been glad about that. We knew we needed to be kept in line!
But Jesus in the Gospels frankly tells us that He came to reset our image of God. He introduces to us the genuine Godhead of which He is an integral aspect. Only think about that! God entered a human body so God could personally introduce Godself. We cannot imagine any greater love! Jesus tells us that the true God is perfectly loving Spirit, and that God never judges anyone. He urges us to think of the Godhead not as a powerful king far above us in rank, but more as a Daddy who dotes on us. That is the point of His repeatedly referring to God as “Father.” Let’s look at just a sampling of the many wonderful things that Jesus says about God:
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (JN 4:24).
“When you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (MT 6:6).
“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father” (JN 5:22-23).
“If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (JN 12:47).
“But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (MT 6:3-4).
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (LK 6:35-36).
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (MT 5:43-48).
And this is just a partial list of the wonderful things that Jesus says about the genuine Godhead! He was living at a time when speaking against the prevailing religion could mean a death sentence, so it is remarkable that He got away with doing it for so long. True, three-part gods were in fashion shortly after the Lord’s death, so the church councils simply added the Spirit and Jesus Himself to the cranky-king God that the Hebrews had been worshiping, and thereby they made their own triune God. We might think of it as a marketing gimmick, since in fact there is no Big Guy god, the only Godhead is Spirit, and Jesus is an aspect of that genuine Godhead. But still, the Lord’s precious teachings were preserved. Any Christian can simply read them now and promptly know the truth! Jesus even flat-out tells us to “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (MT 7:7-8).
But still, there are so many Christians who are afraid of God’s wrath if they ask a question. I am told, too, by hospice workers that the people who are most fearful at death are often the most ardent Christians. They say that church-ladies who have spent their lives serving others will tragically often die in terror, worried that they haven’t been quite good enough to escape the pit of fire that yawns before them.
I can see now that I have been failing you. Simply talking about God as loving hasn’t been enough to counter the two-millennia-long Christian terror of an angry and judgmental deity! And wonderfully, the Godhead that Jesus revealed to us is both the same God that we are finding as we come to better understand the physics of the greater reality, and also the Godhead we have been learning about from those that we used to think were dead. There really is a genuine God Who loves us infinitely! So in the epic battle between science and Christianity, does this mean that Christianity actually wins? Of course not. The genuine Godhead is nothing like the humanoid God that Christians worship. Both science and Christianity are going to lose their long argument. Neither of the institutions that we most trust ever has developed much of a clue about what actually is going on.
So I have been trying of late to think how we might cleanse our minds of the fear-based Christian God to make us better able to come to know the perfect love-based genuine Godhead.
The word that keeps coming up is “Grace.”
The standard Wiki definition of divine grace is that it is “a theological term present in many religions. It has been defined as the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation; and as an individual virtue or excellence of divine origin.”
And what is especially wonderful about the term for me is that God’s grace has been a prominent strain in Christian thought from its beginning. The word is used in ways that fit the modern definition of divine grace at least ten times in the Old Testament, showing that as an idea it dates back that far; and the Psalm that we feature this week is from David. Psalm 130 dates back some three thousand years, and yet it is a song of praise to God that could be happily sung by those who know the genuine Godhead today. In fact, it is apparent upon a close Bible reading that even during the Old Testament period there were prophets in contact with the genuine God, including Micah, Isaiah, and King David himself.
A word that means “grace” appears just four times in the canonical Gospels. But it is used in Paul’s letters at least eighty times! And John the Baptist, prophesying about the coming ministry of Jesus, neatly sums up the relationship between the human-made God of the Old Testament, who survives as the Christian God to this day, and the genuine perfect eternal Godhead that Jesus was born as God on earth to introduce to us. John said, “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (JN 1:17). Amen!
From this day forward, please know that the word that most applies to the genuine Godhead is “grace.” God doesn’t judge or condemn us, never lets us down, and in all things is as close to us and as perfectly loving as the ultimate Daddy. Jesus says to us now, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom” (LK 12:32). And Moses was inspired to say more than a thousand years before Jesus was born, “The eternal God is a refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut 33:27).
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who revere Him.
– David, Third King of Israel and Judah (1035-970 BC), from Psalm 103