The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant. Psalm 103:17-18
Last Fall, our church theatrical group presented a play about the life of Martin Luther. Several lines in the play were references to the ideas and beliefs of that time, the late 1400s and early 1500s. In the 21st century, many of those ideas are sickening. Religious and secular leaders, for their own power and greed, taught people that God is a vengeful, angry, and punishing God. Common people, before they had access to the Bible in their own language, were told that God could only be placated through self-punishments, such as flagellation, or the purchase of indulgences. To ‘fear’ God meant to be afraid of him, not to revere and respect him, as that word should mean.
For centuries, the true God of love – and the historical Jesus – were lost in the twisted, warped misrepresentations of priests, popes, nobles, and emperors. How many lives were harmed by those lies? How much human misery was caused by the inability to believe in a God of love? Undoing centuries of lies takes time. Perhaps we’re still trying to rid ourselves of the image of a scowling old-man God who cannot be appeased. “Father, abolish all the misleading ideas of you that have come down over the years. Help us to see you as the loving, creative, forgiving, and redeeming radiance that you are.”
©Carol Dean Henn, 2018
Carol Dean Henn of St. John’s Windish Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, PA