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The Race to Maturity

It is fascinating to read in Scripture how God views Himself in relation to us. The three main ones are as a Suitor, a Husband, and as a Father. While my comments apply in some ways to all three (and others), I will focus on the parent role.

{To address the ‘nasty patriarchal’ terminology, I believe when God refers to Himself in the masculine it is deliberate. Some support for this is that at times He does make more feminine references. He is genderless in His nature, being able to create the masculine and feminine because both are in His nature, but for various reasons predominantly chooses the masculine. I do not believe it is merely due to the early Semites being a patriarchal culture. My God is big enough to create the style of culture He wants in a people He calls His own. If He wanted to be referred to as a She, He would, and Moses, et al, would have had to jump to it. He’s God, they aren’t.}

What I find fascinating is how God views Himself as the Father to both individuals and the human race as a whole. He cares about individual behaviour very obviously, but He also sees humanity as an organism unto itself. If you read the whole of Scripture, you see Him concerned with nations, tribes and tongues corporately, and that He looks at the spiritual health of a corporate group of humans without neglecting the individual.

But what is most interesting to me is that in His Father role, He can be seen through Scripture raising humanity as a parent would a child, from infancy to toddlerhood, childhood, youth, and so on. In the beginning, He gives very simple instructions, things are given in black and white terms, and disobedience is addressed quickly. As time progresses, He lets Israel try walking on its own, warns when they are going to fall, but lets them, and when they have realized their mistake, picks them up and comforts them.

Eventually, Christ comes. In that moment we see a profound change that people often attribute to the Old Testament God being different than the New Testament God. It isn’t God that’s changed, but the maturity of the human race. In Jewish culture, the bar mitzvah, or coming of age ceremony occurs at age 13. Yet, the boy, barely a teenager, still has all of the teenage years and angst to go through. Yet, he is still, in Jewish Law, considered an adult in terms of responsibility for his own actions.

I propose that Christ’s incarnation was humanity’s bar mitzvah. We treat adults differently than children, so it should be of little surprise that God would treat humanity differently. Instead of prescriptive law dictating what the rules are, God through Christ enters into a different kind of relationship with us that is based on our growing maturity as a race. There is still a lot of immaturity, rebellion, and so on, but there is still a difference.

I realize this is vague. I am not a parent myself nor do I have training in child development. I would be thrilled to get feedback from someone with that background to look at both Scripture and history through this filter and offer insight.

Where are we as a race now? My best guess, looking at the last 150 years, is that we are taking drivers’ ed. Look out Creation!!


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