I read comments from people who are offended by some of the things they read in the Bible. They hear stories without understanding the backstory that puts it into context. The backstory isn’t explicit, but it can be pieced together. It helps me when I understand that, anyway. Here’s how I understand the backstory after studying for almost 50 years. It is still incomplete; there are puzzle pieces missing, but I’m starting to figure out the image that the completed puzzle will show.
As far as we can understand God has always existed in relationship with his Son and his Spirit, who altogether comprise the one God. If anyone says they understand how this works, I’m not sure I’d believe them – but it’s part of the presupposition of the backstory.
God was so full of creativity and love and power, that he wanted more beings to share in relationship with him.
He created the angels, and they existed in relationship with him. But at some point one led a rebellion against him and took a third of the angels with him. The leader wanted to take God’s place and have everyone worship him instead. He hated God and distorted and destroyed what God created.
God created the world and all that was in it. In this instance he created beings who could create more beings, just like he could. These beings could live in relationship with one another and with him, and love could be shared and multiplied among them. But the enemy leader stepped in at the beginning and turned even these against God. God, however, loved them, and had devised a plan to defeat the enemy and make all things whole again. The enemy loved hatred, and disaster, and destruction, and force. God refused to use force, since force is the “anti-love” and what is forced is not given freely.
These created ones fell short of the Creator’s goal for them, and were twisted by the enemy’s efforts. And their descendents bore the burden of their failure. But the Creator was not done yet.
He became one of his own created beings and grew up just as they did, in a family. The only difference was this one was not tainted as all others were. And yet he experienced growth, and training, and happiness and sadness, love and pain, just like his creation did.
The enemy knew who he was and decided that he must be killed. The enemy maneuvered the religious authorities and political authorities to act, as if in concert, to brand this one as worthy of punishment by death. The enemy thought that this would end the creator’s efforts to fix his creation.
Because the creator refused to fight with anything but love, he (in the form of this man) submitted to an awful, humiliating, painful form of death. What good could come of this? I can think of a few.
1 – Death was overthrown. The murdered one sent from the creator (who was actually the creator – it’s hard to understand) did not stay dead. There are documented witnesses to his death, and to seeing him alive again afterwards. (There also are witnesses who saw him leave and recorded his promise to return, and set things right once and for all.)
2 – By sharing with the most awful pain his creation could go through, he learned compassion for pain. The creatures can go to the creator and cry out to him knowing that he knows their pain.
He works with these he loves, and allows them to develop and grow through the trials and the evil intents of the enemy. Whatever the enemy tries to thwart God’s purposes, God has a plan to overthrow his plans and return to good. However, it is a long process, and it is taking lifetimes and generations and still it isn’t fully implemented. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen. But it relies on love. Any action that is not based in love is wrong. Any “gains” realized from unloving acts are not true gains but setbacks.
to be continued….