Sunday, January 29, 2012

"God Loves you, Period" - Isn't That Only Half the Story?

No, it's the whole, entire, complete story.  There is nothing else in God's attitude toward you but love.  His love does not come alongside anything else that might dilute or alter or temper it, or overrule it or modify it in any way.  Or even "balance" it or form some sort of polarity with it.   There is no tension, so to speak, between God's love and anything else.  There is no dark side whatsoever in God's attitude toward you.  It's pure love, infinite love, unconditional love. 

But isn't He going to cast the wicked into hell, someone may ask?  And come on, do not even try to tell me that is love.

Indeed, that would not be love.  It would conflict with love.  It would form a boundary upon the boundless, a condition upon the unconditional, a limit to the infinite.  It would mean that at some point, God had turned on you. 

God doesn't cast anyone into hell.  God continues to love every single person completely, forever.  Hell is what happens when He places you squarely in the immediate presence of that love and you can't stand it.

What?  Not be able to stand God's love, are you serious?

It's true.  Not everyone may want God's love.  There can be serveral reasons for this, and they all have to do with the condition of the human heart, not with God's heart. 

One reason is that God's Love is inseparable from God's Truth.  It's clear not everybody wants to be confronted with the truth about himself.  While seeing our shocking ugliness now, while there's time to change it, is appalling enough, seeing it when we've become too hardened to change is infinitely worse.  It's hell.

Another reason we may not like to stand in the sunshine of God's love is jealousy, as illustrated by the elder brother of the Prodigal Son.  A person may not mind if God loves him infinitely, but he does not want to stand around and watch (much less participate in) any love-fest involving God and that terrible other person.  It would seem so wrong if, for example, that terrible other person were Stalin.   Such gross injustice, even if he did repent at the last moment!  Of course, there isn't really any question of injustice; as Jesus pointed out, God has every right to do whatever He chooses with what is His own.  (And this would apply regardless of how Stalin had come to be saved.)  It's an unloving heart that resents it, and the resentment prevents a person from joining the celebration.  That's hell.

Another example:  if I did not take my well-deserved revenge upon so-and-so, it was because I fully expected God to do it for me, and now I find Him rejoicing in and with that miserable wretch?  An unloving heart cannot bear this.  It might be even worse for me if I did take my revenge and felt well-satisfied, to find myself now confronted with that person, standing before me in his glory, shining, and basking in God's love - my own burning astonishment, plus the satisfaction in the revenge I took,  meanwhile keeping me out of the loop.  

Then again, there may be some who are so heavily invested in "the flesh" that they have become blind to spiritual joys.  While the saints rejoice in one another, in forgiveness, in praising God, in living His Life with Him, in creativity, in peace, we may speculate that others may miss bridge games or hot showers or pizza too much to care about the rest, and would be bored stiff if it weren't for resenting the absence of their physical pleasures. 

Hell does not mean God sends someone to any separate place.  Hell does not mean God tortures us, or has the devil do it for Him.  Hell is something each person does to himself.  As the saying goes, the gates of hell are locked on the inside.   It's our reaction to God's love that becomes our hell.  There can be all sorts of reasons God's very Love becomes hell for us.    But God Himself harbors nothing for us but eternal, undiluted, steadfast, unchanging, infinite Love.  Period.