It's a biggie. But this question is not my primary problem with God.
Still, no doubt: the issue is a sizzler. About 12 days ago [from 31 May 2007] an Israeli news agency reported: Chief Rabbinate Finalizes Ban on Christian Women's Conference. The facts are pretty clear. Israel's Chief Rabbinate (CR) issued a ban forbidding Jewish participation in two "Christian-sponsored conferences." The reason? In spite of advertised objectives to focus on social issues, the CR decided that both events were subtle attempts to persuade Jews "that Jesus is Messiah."
Neither conference was cancelled, however. And last week all sponsors announced success.
But oh the uproar that this ban provoked. Is Jesus the Messiah? Is he God?. In 131 Talkbacks there was a scathing storm of words. People on all sides of the issue called each other liars, idolaters and traitors.
It was nauseating. Not because people embrace different answers than I. And not because of anyone's intensity or passion. This question is anything but easy. Arguably it's not even nice. Those who wrestle with it should be fighting hard.
But for heaven's sake with God, not each other! Why? Because the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob blessed his people by naming them Israel, a wonderfully descriptive word that means "he who contends with God." It is a designation that is an invitation too.
The idea of God inviting us to wrestle shocks a lot of people. In fact I think it's self-evident that most monotheists believe God is someone to whom we must submit or die.
The word Islam, for example, means submission--although Muslims are hardly the only ones who approach God from this paradigm. Many if not most Christians believe the only way to God is submit or die. Sure they have different dogmas than Islam, but it's still submit-or-die.
And me? As a defendant in God's Court of Law here's my affidavit: Jesus is the Messiah. What's more he is the uniquely singular Son of God. Meaning that he is, at once, completely human and completely God.
So, this means my faith's at ease because I have "right" answers? Oh sure, life's a breeze. The 10 zillion problems raised by my affirmations don't bother me a bit. Like: if this answer's true, why has God allowed so many atrocities in Jesus' name?
Ah, but perhaps my sworn testimony is an attempt to convert those who disagree--or maybe recruit gullibles who've never thought about it, hmm? Right; as if I can change anybody's heart about anything. Shoot, I can't even convert myself to stop eating junk food.
But at the very least doesn't my affirmation mean that I regard myself superior to those who answer differently? God forbid. Hear me on this: regardless of your answer, you are alright with me.
Why? Cuz charm is deceitful, beauty is vain, and words alone are cheap. Anyone can say anything. This is Torah truth, not mine: it is the heart God is after. And what kind of heart? Get this: a circumcised one; yup, one that's been cut up with a knife, then left wounded and scarred for life.
And that's why my biggest problem with God isn't the question about Jesus.
What is it, then? Go ahead, take a look. My wife and I are proud parents to 3 sons. They are wonderfully unique. I love each one so much I would gladly give my life to rescue theirs.
My biggest problem with God culminated 7 [now 10] years ago today. That's when one of our sons died. His name is Taylor and he was four days shy of turning 12 years old.
He didn't die at the hands of evil men or by a sudden accident. Instead for 2 long years he fought a war with cancer. It literally hacked off an entire hip and leg, then maimed his torso too. In spite of all my tearful prayers, God did not rescue him from 24 months of torture or from a horrific death.
So what have I done with this, my biggest problem with God?
I have done the same thing Taylor always did with me. Even in agony and knowing that I could not take his place, he always accepted my invitation to move toward dad.
Sometimes his fists wailed away at pillows that I used to help absorb the blows. But most of the time my son turned to me and held on tight. Resting his head on my chest, we talked and laughed and cried. Somehow he found nourishment in my heartbroken love. It is the greatest honor I have ever known.
That's why I thank my divine Opponent for naming his people Israel. Sometimes it's tempting, but I don't have time to fight with you. I'm too busy wrestling in muck and mire with God, clinging in my woundedness to him, crying out in protest and in pride,
My son! My Son!! MY SON!!!