I had a good friend, the adult son of a pastor, who told me he perceived God as saying, “Love me or die.”
Then he added, “I’d rather die.”
Yes, he was the son of a pastor and spent many hours sitting in a pew hearing the words about God — but he also had a parent who put a knife through his hand rather than have him use his considerable musical talent to “play worldly music.” To him (and to many others) God was a sad construct of his abusive parents. We do tend to create God, if not in our own image, in the image of authority figures we have known, good and bad, from detached irresponsible fathers who went away to physically and emotionally abusive mothers to indulgent Santa Claus-type grandfathers.
I think the way we hear words someone says depends on how we view the person who speaks them. For most of my life I heard God’s words as disapproval and laying down impossible expectations.
These same words, “Do what I tell you or you will die,” have completely different meanings dependng on whether you perceive the person speaking them to be a rapist with a knife or a rescuer hanging by a rope from a helicopter.
For years reading the Bible, at best, felt like reading a phonebook from a city I had no intention of visiting –meant for someone else. At worst it felt like reading court documents listing the charges against me.
What I never realized was that the judge loved me enough not only to hang from a helicopter to get me out of a certain death situation, he hung from a tree. He said, “I love you so much I’d rather die than be without you.” So he did –and then conquered death so we could be together forever.
I am adored by the King of the Universe who wants a relationship with me. He invented love. Heady stuff. I hear his words differently now.