Today’s second question comes from Yvette. She wrote: “I have a question– because God and religion seem so un conclusive and undemanding– does God keep score? If there is a God, does he discredit me because I said “if”? Or does God give extra credit to those who repeat his scripture? And which Scripture would that be??”
Thanks for the great question about whether or not God keeps score when it comes to our lives. I can certainly understand where the question comes from – because there are a lot of folks out there who talk about God in ways that would suggest judgment and condemnation are the primary characteristics of God.
I see God’s defining characteristic a lot differently.
Primarily because of a parable that Jesus shared: a parable known as The Prodigal Son. You can find that parable in Luke 15:11-32.
In that parable, a man has two sons. The older son is loyal and hard-working. The younger son is neither of these. In fact, the younger son is so impulsive that he asks his father for his entire inheritance – while his father is still alive! The younger son promptly goes out and blows the money on frivolous things.
After a short period of time living in poverty, the younger son decides to humble himself and return to his father. At this point he’s willing to accept whatever crumbs the father might throw his way.
So how does the father handle it? Does he pull out his scorecard and use it to condemn the younger son – or gloat upon his return?
No. Instead, the father rejoices at his return and throws a huge party to celebrate. Of course, this celebration ticks off the older son who – as one dedicated to keeping score – is furious his father would respond so generously.
Jesus’ parable tells me two things. First, it tells me that God’s defining characteristics are love and mercy, not judgment and condemnation. Second, it tells me there are those who – like the older son – spend a lot of time around “the Father” who desperately want God to keep score. To reward the winners and punish the losers!
My job, in all of this, is to spend my life proclaiming a loving and merciful God who is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS willing to celebrate and embrace us – no matter what the scorecard of our life may read at any given moment – and to patiently love (at least on my good days) those who proclaim a different understanding of God.
So what about you? What do you think about all of this?