A God to Love and Trust

At church this morning, we had a different preacher, since the lay pastor is on vacation.  The preacher today is the pastor emeritus.

The preacher that we had today appears to be more of a Calvinist.  He didn’t mention predestination, but he used such phrases as “sovereign grace,” “the sovereignty of God,” doing things “for the glory of God,” “righteousness,” and “covenant of grace.”  He also referred to the importance of parents teaching their children about God.

His sermon was about faith.  He opened his sermon by referring to when he was a kid and went to the hospital to have his tonsils taken out.  Another person at the hospital was screaming at the prospect of having to undergo an operation, whereas he was experiencing the operation with inner peace.  The eighty-eight year old pastor attributed this to his faith in God.  He then talked about his Sunday School teacher when he was a child—a patient and kind woman who did not have children herself, and so she poured her love into her Sunday School class.

At first, my thought was that the pastor was bragging about how much better he is than non-believers because he has Christian faith.  And he did say that we should glorify God through the inner peace that comes from our faith, a concept that I disdain, since I do not always have inner peace, and I dislike the idea of having to be a walking advertisement for Christianity, when I am far from perfect.  But then I had to respect the pastor for having faith for so long, through the trials of life.

Last night, I had difficulty sleeping, and I was trying to soothe myself to sleep through the “Church of James Pate’s Brain,” in which I tell myself about God’s love, grace, sovereignty, presence, and hope.  But then my mind turned to the story in the Bible about the blasphemer who was stoned to death.  I’ve felt sorry for this guy since I first read about him in Basil Wolverton’s Bible Story.  He was half-Egyptian, which may have meant that he was marginalized.  He was in a fight with an Israelite and profaned the name of God, and God ordered Moses to put him to death.  I wonder how I can love or trust this type of God.  People have told me that they experienced God when they were at their worst and God was at his best.  I’d like to think that God has compassion for the marginalized, even when they are angry and say something that’s inappropriate.

I suppose that’s where the Gospel comes in: God loved us while we were yet sinners.  I think of the scene in Pilgrim’s Progress in which Moses is whipping Christian, but Jesus shows Christian grace.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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