Faith Reflection by Quin Hillyer at PJ Media;

Two weeks after writing about the unfortunate misunderstandings leading nearly a third of all American “secularists” to believe conservative Christians literally put them at physical risk, I am still haunted by that horrid misperception.

It dawns on me, though, that it’s likely that just as many secularists see not just conservative Christians but God himself as an angry, threatening figure. Somehow, somewhere, what registered in their minds about the Judeo-Christian tradition is the concept of judgment – the “fire and brimstone” awaiting sinners – rather than the overriding message of mercy and abundant grace.

To be sure, there are Biblical passages, including some from Jesus himself, saying that the torments of Hell await those who turn away from God. And of course the most famous “rules” from God – and the ones conservative Christians put so much stock in that they fight to put them into civil courtrooms – are that series of “thou shalt nots” called the Ten Commandments.

Yet even in the Old Testament, meaning even before Christ came into the world to re-emphasize the ultimate truth of God’s mercy, love and grace, that image of a wholly vengeful God – the God of harsh and impatient judgment – is not an accurate one. Whether out of honest ignorance or some psychological resentments, the secularists who believe this image are missing both context and divine intent.

Today’s first two readings (option one) demonstrate the true and ultimate reality of our Judeo-Christian God. The first reading is largely comprised of the famous Ten Commandments themselves. The second, the famously beautiful Psalm 19, explains how those Commandments are to be understood.

The psalm makes clear that God’s laws are intended not to rebuke us, but to benefit us ….

[The full reflective essay, including an analogy to cigarette labels, is here.]