I just watched a couple of good videos by Tim Mackie.  Here’s the link to that series  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wu6EYoUcYOk&list=PLZ1ocmtU5AOeDTqm2faODfdD8SolitgJe  explaining God’s character.  I hope that I can somehow convey just how amazing God is to not only love us unconditionally, but also judge us honestly.  You see it’s not either/or but both/and.  We can get confused about that and want to lean one way or the other on who God is, but scripture tells us who He is and how He deals with those who turn toward Him or away from Him.  The way you see Him will greatly influence the way you see yourself and others.

Teenagers can help with this because they are usually unashamedly selfish, but not all the time.  We see it in the way they pass blame or justify their words and actions.  To them it’s okay, because quite often to them, they are the ones who matter most.  That’s part of the blessing we have as we work through who God is to them and how that shapes their view of themselves and others.  For instance, if we are trying to teach them something, I will take their phones first, because they will become distractions if we don’t remove them from the equation.  Even with that distraction gone, they will tend to be distracted either by one another or by something else.  So, who’s to blame - their parents for not teaching them how to listen, or their teachers for not showing them how to pay attention?  Maybe we should blame a society that has allowed them to become so narcissistic that all they ever think about is themselves.

Tim reminds us that we have a pretty good lineage of rule breakers, many of whom were probably distracted from the message that God was giving them even amid amazing miracles happening right in front of their faces.  Narcissistic Israel, the nation that God chose to covenant with, would have fit in with most modern day youth groups.  You can smile at that.  They were rebels, even in the presence of holiness.  Exodus reminds us of God’s love even during that rebellion.  Exodus 34:6-7 tells us “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.'"  Keeping steadfast love for thousands, according to the Hebrew scholar, actually means thousands of generations.  People misinterpret this to mean that there is somehow a curse that God imparts on the children and grandchildren of those who rebel.  Honestly, who of us can say that there are those in our families who are perfect and who have never rebelled at some point in their lives?  Can’t we see that the amount of God’s love outweighs His judgment?  It doesn’t wipe away His judgment.  It just shows how merciful He is even in the midst of our rebellion.  For those who want to carry the weight of their rebellion, He will grant their wish and they can live with the consequences.  But to those who repent of their own rebellion, He is gracious to forgive.  We may still have to live with some consequences but not the consequence of condemnation.  We don’t live under the weight of our ancestors, but on the promise that God is quick to forgive what we have confessed and repented of.

Don’t fall into the false teaching that God is always mad, quick to condemn and happy to punish.  Be certain that, in the cross we see the abundance of justice that has been paid in the saving death of Jesus Christ - a price paid out of love, not our merits or because we deserve it.  The covenant has been fulfilled in the perfect sacrifice of Jesus!  Let’s celebrate that truth and grace given to us!  He is alive!  God is good, all the time!  And all the time, God is good!

In Christ’s Love,

Rob   Romans 12