A New/Old Look

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I grew a beard!

(Going by spelling alone, that sentence seems as if it SHOULD rhyme. But of course, it doesn’t. English! Bah humbug!)

Why did I grow it? No… it wasn’t because I got a part in a movie that required it… as was the case with my blogger friend Mitch Teemley (whose work can be found here, by the way. Check out that link if you want to see an example of a REAL blog!)

I am not actually sure I can give you a good, solid reason why I grew it. 

Perhaps it was boredom. Perhaps it was a sly way to hide the flubbering wattle my neck seems to be acquiring. Beards, as they say, are male make-up.

Perhaps it was because – after all these years – I am getting tired of shaving. Or maybe it’s because I want to fit in a little better here in my newly adopted state of Colorado. 

Whatever the reason, here it is. 

Some like it. Some don’t. Some (**Cough, cough, “Joan.” Cough, cough**) say it makes me look older than I actually am. NO ONE has yet responded to the beard with the phrase I’ve longed to hear: “Oh, Russell! That beard makes you look SO dashing and debonair!”

I suppose I just decided – after more than 30 years with the same look – it was time to shake things up. You know… try something different. 

In doing so, I find myself grateful to remember that God doesn’t feel this same need. 

Let me explain. A long time ago, I carried around the idea of two Gods: God #1 was the OLD Testament God. God #1 was harsh and angry. God #1 rained down fire on pagans and non-believers. God #1 meted out swift and severe punishment on followers who screwed up. God #1 also had some pretty strict worship rules. Yes, even stricter than, “No talking in church!”

When folks back then saw God #1 coming, they wanted to pack up their children and RUN!!

Then Jesus was born and along with him came God #2. The NEW Testament God. 

God #2 was cool. God #2 was love, kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, and mercy. God #2 was totally OK with talking in church. God #2 hung out in beautiful places like forests, waterfalls, beaches, and golf courses. God #2 even stretched out God’s hand to pagans and non-believers and said, “Hey! Why don’t we sit down and have a cup of coffee? You tell me about your beliefs and hang-ups and I’ll tell you all about Myself. No pressure.”

But then I discovered something that seemed big and important: There is only ONE GOD! There has only EVER been ONE GOD. The idea of a God #1 and a God #2 (the new, improved version) is just ridiculous. 

From the very beginning of the first spark of the universe, God has been creative, loving, forgiving, omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), full of grace, full of truth, compassionate, tender, merciful, and righteous and 100 other adjectives my brain is too small to concoct right now. 

In fact, right up to today – January 13, 2022 – God is STILL all of those things. And more.

God is, however, no pushover. As the ultimate architect of the notions of RIGHT and WRONG, God certainly knows the difference between the two.  

In both Testaments, we see that God wanted all people to choose the right and reject the wrong. But when it comes down to the question of what to do about folks who consistently choose wrong, God does seem to have changed tactics between Testament #1 and #2.

When God put on a suit of flesh and blood and chose to walk around with us, God set the record straight. He gave a very instructive word of guidance about his plans to deal with people who refused to “get with the program.” In John’s gospel, we hear Him saying, “I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” (John 12:47, NRSV).

That has always been God’s mission… yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever. And even though you and I change – habits, jobs, places of residence, hairstyles, spouses, whatever! – God never does.

Praise God!

Abundant blessings;

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