My friend Bill recently made a post on his blog where he describes some interaction he had with his daughter. In a nutshell, she wanted Bill to read her a book about the flood (Noah's Flood) so he did. The next day, she got the impresstion that God doesn't love us. This is my response.
Yes, God is a God of love (when I speak of God here, I speak of the God…the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob); however, he is also a Holy God. Being holy means he cannot love sin. So, here is what is important (and you don't get this from just one story in the Bible):
1) God created humans to be perfect…no sin.
2) Man chose to sin and rebel again God in the Garden.
3) This rebellion caused the Holy God to have to deal with the sin. He kicked the original people out of the Garden for their rebellion.
4) Since the original man, every man (person) born has inheritied this sin nature.
5) God loves us, and wanted to restore our relationship with Him.
6) God sent His Son (the God-Man [100% God yet 100% man]) to earth. He lived a sinless life on earth.
7) He was offered up on the cross as payment for our sin debt.
8) God loves everyone equally. He offers His gift to anyone and everyone regardless of status, race, color, etc…
9) All though God is love, He is also holy and cannot tolerate sin.
10) He loves us, but if we refuse to accept His love, we must be punished. 11) We may or may not see His punishement while we are alive; however, this WILL happen once we die if we have not accepted His love while we are alive.
Think about it like this. Parents love their children but still punish their children when they do wrong. Do the parents cease to love their children when they punish them? No. The two (love and punishment) are not mutually exclusive.
I don't know what book was or what it said, but did it mention the rainbow? How God promised to never again destroy the entire world by flood? Did the book go into the gift God provided? Here are some links to some flood books for kids that would probably include the WHOLE story:
Noah's Ark and the Ararat Adventure
Noah's Ark and the Great Flood
The True Story of Noah's Ark
So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that the Bible must be taken as a whole. It isn't potluck. A person can only understand things by looking at the entire "picture"
Will they just skip over the plagues, death, flooding, and occasional harshness of our Loving God?
I hope not because God is not only love. He is other things as well. You cannot understand the love of God without understanding God in His entirety.
Will her knowing the full story from the bible cause others in her church to be uncomfortable?
Again, if people are like this, one must question if we are talking about the same God. This is why it is very important to pick a church that believes the ENTIRE Bile. Not just parts. Not just potluck. Not just the good parts. Not just the "bad". They need to believe it all…all or nothing. Without that, one only gets part of the picture.
How do you reconcile the apparent dichotomy of being told he is a Loving God and then seeing what he does throughout the old testament?
Again, one has to take it all. The God who loves everyone so much that He sent His son into the world to die that we might live hates sin and cannot tolerate it. You have to take everything. If one views the entire picture instead of focusing on one thing there is no problem reconciling everything.