If God is Love, then maybe this should change everything we think about God? What do I mean by change everything? What I mean is, if God is Love, then that should change the way we see God…see Jesus…see each other…and even see ourselves relating to God. We are obsessed with judgement and wrath, yet we talk of love and compassion in the same sentence. We want to see human versions of justice exacted on our enemies by God, all the while, we want to say that God will stand up and defend our rights and our freedoms. The results we really want is the hope that those who threaten us will be taken down under the wrath and judgement of a holy and righteous God, which of course we think is on our side. But I want to ask…who has a problem with this view of God? Should we be OK believing in a God that would answer our prayers of vengeance on our enemies? We want to see justice served and we want our enemies that refuse to believe like us to experience the flames of hell and eternal torment. But if God is Love, are we not asking God to deliver something that is contrary to his very divine nature? Are we not asking God to think like us? In addition, what if our enemy’s god answered their prayers about our destruction…what then?
We see pastors that say things like this from the pulpits to stir the pot of fear,
“Hell is a literal place of torment for those who consciously and willingly reject the matchless, sacrificial love of God found in Jesus Christ. Hell is not a state of being; it’s not a metaphor; it’s not a symbol. Hell is a real place.”
My first question is…how would this person know? The answer…this person doesn’t really know the above statement to be true. They may think it to be true based on subjective denominational statements of faith and certain evangelical translations of verses in the bible, but when we get to the very end of the line, this person does not know if there is a literal hell or not. So why do pastors take the liberty to make statements that are most certainly unknowable at this stage in human existence? The answer…control, which is absolutely the opposite of Love. But I don’t want to talk about control. However, I do want to get you to ask yourself questions like…if God is Light and in him there is no darkness…in him there is nothing but the manifestation of Love, then is hell really the place that we think it is? Is it the place that all these pastors behind the pulpits say it is? Do they really know anything at all about something they have never experienced?
So, if God is Love…if God is Light, how does this help us understand the idea of hell within the fallen human condition? I am saying that we cannot understand anything about heaven, hell, salvation, or any other doctrine unless we can see that God is Love. Most pastors result to saying you need the bible, but truth can only exist after Love, not before it. Our lens for interpreting the bible, logically, would be to see all scripture from the point that God is Love…that God is Light and in Him there is no darkness. I do not believe that we need to take that “in him there is no darkness” as a way to say that God cannot be in the presence of sin. Rather, it seems that this is a way of saying that God, through his self-emptying, self humbling divine nature, is the opposite of our self-centered, violent, wrathful, retributive idea of justice.
What is more plausible…that a literal hell exists through righteous judgement (explained in literature alone) or that when we play the accuser (which is the meaning of the title “satan”) in others lives, and then we throw them into hell as a result? Is not the job of satan to accuse? So, do we join in on the satanic when we accuse others, especially if we use our subjective truths of the bible to do so? Let me be more specific here… I believe we can play “the satan” in another’s life. Through accusations that stem from a rivalry, they believe the accusations to be true. The belief of accusations, coming from the fundamentalist, manifests itself as the demonic, which creates hell in their life…and in the lives around them. Is hell a real place somewhere off where no one can see it or is it a real place that we find ourselves in or help others to enter through our accusations we feel justified to dish out? Just ask those who have been beaten by their fathers their entire childhood and believe they are worthless because of it. The father and son find themselves in an arena of rivalry and violence that creates “weeping and gnashing of teeth” for both involved. What breaks this rivalrous cycle of violence and accusations? Love does of course. When we understand that God is Love…that God is Light, we then see that our own lives benefit from living in that Love that was and is manifested through the person of Jesus through his example. Nothing can break the cycle of violence like the self-emptying, self-humbling Love that Jesus showed all of humanity through his life, death, and resurrection.
Just think about it…if God is Love, does he need to live up to our idea of earthly justice? If God is Light and in him there is no darkness, will he then throw you into the darkness of hell because you did not know that Love benefits all and is salvation? These are questions we all need to ask ourselves over and over again. We do not need pastors behind pulpits shaking their fists in the air determining who is saved and who is not and will end up in hell. What we need are real people who understand the “Good News”….that God has reconciled all people to himself and that real salvation comes when we step outside of the rivalries around us…become self-emptying and self-humbling…and see that those around us are more important than ourselves. What is more important to you…showing your rival that they are truly Loved, or shaming them to see that you are right? Also, ask yourself….do you want hell to exist so God will throw those in who don’t believe like you? If you said yes…is that Love?