God Wants to Be a Friend to Everyone

“Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same, all may change, but Jesus never—glory to His name” (Simpson & Burke)! Hearing the opening to this song as a little girl meant no more to me than standing up between my parents, hymnal open, ready to sing. I never thought that the lyrics may not be true. As I grew older, it finally occurred to me that God did not seem to act the same as he used to in the Old Testament, or at least the Old Testament God wasn’t the picture of God that lived in my head — he actually seemed very different.

This is a topic discussed by many atheists and Christians, and its a difficult topic to come across to say the least. However, it seems like the Bible portrays a picture of a God who is cruel in the Old Testament and one who is compassionate and kind in the New, but when looking at it in the correct context, the idea that God stays the same in the Bible holds truth.

To begin, its important to understand who God is from the Christian standpoint. To make it simple, there are a few terms that give an overarching idea of who God is according to the Bible: He is all-powerful, perfect, and loving. He is kind, and he is a friend. However, because he has ultimate authority, he also has standards and consequences.

Going off of the previous definition, it seems like the God of the Old Testament has the last few characteristics, while the God of the New has the first.

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Without thorough examination, the God displayed in the Old Testament comes across as vastly different than the God shown in the New Testament.

The Old Testament shows a picture of a multifaceted God who is extremely powerful, vindictive, and jealous. He destroyed cities and turned women into salt. However, though it may seem unfrequent, he also showed compassion and forgiveness. On the other hand, The New Testament displays a loving, kind, and forgiving God. He committed the most selfless act possible, and sent his own son to die for the sins of human kind. It just seems unfeasible try to unite these two versions of God as the same. However, it is possible.

The only way to unite the two sides of God together is reviewing the book in the correct context. The majority of Old Testament is all about the creation of a relationship between God and the world — God needed to share his love and teach to the world as a whole of his holiness and existence. In the New Testament, God is more known of, and he is more concerned about his individual relationship with each person, and getting his people to tell of him even further. Nevertheless, though it may not seem true, according to the Bible, there is actually a great number of instances in which the God of the Old and New Testament prove to be the same.

One central characteristic of God is that he is loving, kind, and forgiving. Sometimes it seems like he is only kind in the New, but he is actually very kind and welcoming of sinners in all circumstances. In the New Testament, as previously stated, God sent his own son to die for humans — every single one of the sinful, undeserving people. Not only did he send his son to earth to die, but Jesus died so that humans could be forgiven and have a second chance at eternal life (“The Harper Collins Study Bible”). That seems like the ultimate act of love and kindness. This is just one time out of many. Jesus, (and this is a completely separate discussion) who is basically God, is the most compassionate person to have ever been on Earth. He stopped a group of people punishing a woman who was an adulterer and was kind and accepting of her, and when his disciples were ignorant, and when they weren’t there for him, Jesus was still always loving and patient with them (“The Harper Collins Study Bible”).

However, its not the New Testament where proof of God’s kindness needs to be shown, its the Old. It may seem like it doesn’t happen, but God is actually extremely loving, kind, and merciful in the Old Testament as well, its just important to be able to see past God’s consequential side to see it. When the Israelites were ungrateful and when they complained even though they didn’t have the right to, God still delivered them to the promised land . Additionally, even though Abraham went directly against God and decided to have a baby with another woman, God still had mercy, and made Ishmael the “father of a great nation” (“The Harper Collins Study Bible”). Its easy too look past God’s mercy when so many other things happened in the Old Testament, but there were very large acts of kindness and mercy in both books. However, God is more often kind to extremely large groups in the Old Testament, as opposed to the seemingly endless list of individual people in the New.

Not only is God there to constantly love and forgive people of their sins, but he also wants to be everyone’s friend. Jesus’ disciples were always by his side, they were like his best friends, and he always referred to them that way. Jesus also loved to go to his friends’ house (Mary, Martha, and Lazarus) and just spend the day and eat with them, and he even wanted to be friends with Lazarus — a man that no one even liked a little bit.

The Bible continues to say that even today, Jesus wants the exact same relationship with his people (“The Harper Collins Study Bible”). In the Old Testament, God had another kind of spiritual friendship with many people. Back in the time of the Old Testament, there was a much slimmer number of Christian followers that in the New. God chose those who were faithful to him to be his friend, and he used them to continue spreading his word. God chose people like Moses, Abraham, and many others. God used Moses to teach to the whole Israelite nation, while using Abraham to become the father of many nations (“The Harper Collins Study Bible”). God clearly referred to both of them as his friends in the Bible, and he brought both of these friends to Heaven to be with him after they died. God was a friend in the Old Testament, and wants to continue being a friend even today.

While God is great and loving and friendly, it is also true that God is the one who is in authority. So, as an authority figure, God made standards that he wants his people to follow, both individually, and as a whole. Additionally, God isn’t a shy god, and he isn’t afraid of making his standards known. (“God’s Standards”). In the Old Testament, God gave the group of Israelites the Ten Commandments in order to give a clear explanation of what he expected of his group of people — don’t murder, don’t have any other gods, keep the Sabbath holy, and more (“The Harper Collins Study Bible”).

No one should be hesitant to follow his commandments, and when the rules were not followed, there were serious consequences to show that not following his rules was unacceptable. God doesn’t just have high standards in the Old Testament. The people of the New Testament are to follow the exact same rules as those of the Old, and if they don’t, there will be consequences.

Additionally, though they were less official and clear, God and Jesus gave more rules for the newer generations of people to follow as well: the New Testament instructs God’s people to do whatever they can to keep themselves away from any kind of sin (Most of his new rules involve getting rid of sin in one’s life). However, instead of making a list he expected everyone to follow, he gave his rules to the church and then entrusted them to pass his ways around (“The Harper Collins Study Bible”). Someone in authority over a group of people can not just let criminals, or sinners in this case, get away with their crime or sin. God still loves and wants to forgive the people he created, but he is also a just God, and while God is God and he can do anything he wants, in order to remain just, he must not to overlook sins. That is why there must be consequences, and God is clearly unafraid of giving them. (“God’s Standards”).

While God loves everyone and wants the best for every person, as previously stated, he still must have consequences when people sin (“God’s Standards”). One of the biggest arguments of the Bible is, “If God is so loving, how did he destroy entire cities? It seems like there is nothing even close to comparable of any cruel act that God did in the New Testament. This is a really tough question that even a lot of Christians struggle with. However, this is just another contextual matter. When God decided to destroy the Canaanites, Sodom, and Gomorrah, it wasn’t just solely because they were sinful — not even a small handful of people were found to not be sinful — they were completely evil. God chose Israel as his chosen land. Israel was to be his, and it was to be holy land. He didn’t want any other gods to be ruling his land, and he gave all of these cities fair chances to save themselves, but they chose not to.

So, in order for God to be able to have Israel as holy land, he had to destroy the cities and the people within it (“The Harper Collins Study Bible”). Today, and in the New Testament, it seems like God isn’t as concerned with large cities as he is with his individual people. However, God has promised consequences to those who were evil in the New Testament, and those who are evil today. God will not destroy entire cities of people, but he will destroy all of the individual evil people within them in hell (“The Harper Collins Study Bible”). This seems equal, if not more consequential than the destruction of the cities. God is a consequential god. He has created a holy land, and only his people may enter. All of the others will have to be destroyed.

The Bible does a good job of proving that God is the same exact person as he was many years ago. He still chooses to care for and watch over sinful people who don’t deserve it. He wants to help and save everyone, and he gives everyone the opportunity to be saved. God also has rules, and gives out consequences for those who don’t follow them. In the New Testament, the whole context of God in the Bible changes.

God isn’t trying to work through a whole nation, he is working through churches and individual people. While it may seem cruel that God destroyed an entire city, if just one person committed a crime they would be individually prosecuted in hell. If 10,000 people committed a crime, they would all individually be prosecuted. In the same way, God was patient with the Israelites as they continually sinned against him, just like he is patient with the people of the New Testament and the people of today as they sin or idolize other things. The Bible shows that God hasn’t changed at all — he has always been kind, patient, and loving, and he always has been and always will be in authority, and he will always have standards and consequences.

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God Wants to Be a Friend to Everyone. (2022, Jun 25). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/god-wants-to-be-a-friend-to-everyone/

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