I remember visiting my roommate, Dave, at the old people’s community he used to work at in college. One of our buddies, Jason, and I wanted to visit Dave at work and see what he did there. He took us around introducing us to several of the residents he had come to know in his time working there. I remember one man pretty well even to this day.
I do not really remember his name, but I do remember Dave leaving Jason and I alone to talk with this man. That was part of the reason we chose to come; to talk with some older people with great stories. It really can be an excellent moment if you allow for it.
Jason and I sat making small talk with this older man. He was gruff. Through course of conversation, his curiosity sparked him to ask if we were Christians. He snapped the question pretty coarsely, which to our affirmative response he quickly and gruffly said, “Well I don’t believe that shit!” We asked him why not, and he said he used to be in the service and lost some of his buddies. He said he even tried to turn to religion then and all he ever saw in that damn book was “death death death.” That was all the Bible was to him; death and punishment. Why would a loving God go around punishing, killing, and getting pissed at people? He could not fathom that at all.
It made me think tonight about Judah as we read about it in Jerimiah, and even as we read about Israel on many occasions as well.
I wish, today, I had thought to ask the man if he was married before. If so, I would say, “Now we know you absolutely loved your wife. Of course! Now what if you came to find that your wife was sleeping around on you behind your back? You knew she had messed around some before, and you were angry, but you still chose to love her, and forgive her. But suppose she kept doing it, and it kept getting worse. Now you are a man who loves your wife. Are you angry at your wife though? Darn right you would be angry at her. What if after several occasions, you discovered your wife continued to do it and it got worse with more and more involvement with the adulterous lifestyle you come against years before? At what point would YOU break and file for divorce and say you had just had it?”
I imagine I would possibly direct my cynical friend to Jeremiah 3:1. “You have lived as a prostitute with many lovers–would you now return to me?’ Declares the Lord.” Most of chapter 2 and 3 of Jerimiah reveal a God who is pissed and hurt by a people he loves who have continually gone back to the sins and idols they created. God is a passionate lover who considers all of his people his bride. He is a passionate God whose love has been continually neglected by his bride.
Now as a husband, I can see how passionate my God really is for me. To see his anger and comparing me to a prostitute when I continually neglect his love has really challenged me to understand the anger and divorcing-death that my elderly friend had read so often in ‘the damn book’. To see myself as the slut that Jeremiah writes of challenges me to see God as a passionate lover who desires real intimacy apart from my whoring continual sin. He truly is a God of grace, and I do not overlook that; but to see his anger allows me to see his passion for me revealed even more.
How often do I ignore my Gods commands and warnings?
How often should my heart break to read Jerimiah 2:2, “I remember…how as a bride you loved me and followed me through [your] deserts…But then you tore off your bonds, you said, ‘I will not serve you!’ Indeed, on every high hill and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute.”
I am basically, as the Lord terms it, “a donkey in heat’ (2:24) just shifting in the wind in his craving.” I go to whatever I feel at the moment and nevermind my reckless lover who awaits my constant return.
In the words of Derek Webb:
“I am a whore I do confess.
I put you on like a wedding dress,
and I walk down the aisle.
I am a prodigal with no way home
I put you on like a rign of gold
and I walk down the aisle.”