Monday, November 03, 2008

God Doesn't Love You That Way!

This is how the famous preacher Jonathon Edwards (1703-1758) would describe God's feelings towards you:

"The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours."

Lest you think that was simply how it was preached in the 18th century, here is a quote from a very popular present-day pastor and author. He seems to echo Edwards' view:

"You have been told that God is a loving, gracious, merciful, kind, compassionate, wonderful, and good sky fairy who runs a day care in the sky and has a bucket of suckers for everyone because we’re all good people. That is a lie… God looks down and says ‘I hate you, you are my enemy, and I will crush you,’ and we say that is deserved, right and just, and then God says ‘Because of Jesus I will love you and forgive you.’ This is a miracle."

I believe this kind of preaching feeds on itself and spreads like a virus. It produces a natural insecurity into everyone who listens to it and preaches it. It makes the preacher and the listener believe that God's default relational mode with humanity is one of distaste and disappointment.

The quote above reminded me of a certain wedding. The mother did not care for her son's selection in a bride. She tried in many ways, subtle and not so subtle, to break the couple up before they got married. Her behavior and her words caused enormous hurt.

Finally the wedding day arrived. The inevitable was happening, so the mother put the best face on that she could. At the end of the ceremony, the bride was radiant. Her happiness to be married to the man of her dreams filled the sanctuary. As is customary, the happy couple went to hug each set of parents.

The bride warmly hugged her new mother-in-law. The mother-in-law whispered in the ear of the bride, and the bride's face fell.

The mother-in-law was a very religious woman. To her, the thought of divorce was anathema. So when she hugged the bride, she let her know that from now on she was going to support them as a couple.

It is no surprise that the bride was crestfallen at those words. She knew that the mother-in-law did not truly accept her... it was under duress. Because the mother could not tolerate divorce, she would support the marriage.

I believe this is the message that is preached by the men above and others in their circle. God does not love you... he at best tolerates you. Because of Jesus, the Father will grudgingly accept you. If God's love is as these preachers describe, then He is no different than the rest of us and may even be worse.

When these preachers describe the "love" of God, they are describing the attitude of the older brother in the story of the Prodigal. They are describing the workmen hired early in the day who were jealous of the workers hired later who received the same pay - they are envious when God is generous.

I think that people who are "converted" to Christianity under such preaching end up not too dissimilar from battered spouses. They will proclaim their love, and maybe even have some happy times, but they are always on the edge of a flinch or a shudder. They are never totally secure in where they stand.

But here, I believe, is the GOOD NEWS! God doesn't love you that way!

Unlike everyone else on this planet, GOD loves you without condition. His very nature reaches out to you in kindness, compassion, and mercy. It is that kindness that leads us to repentance, heals our wounds, and purifies our hearts. There is NO end to his patience and his mercy knows NO bounds. God does not love us because of Jesus.

God gave us Jesus because he loves us!

Matthew 12:20
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory.


OneSmallStep said...

Well said. That's the one thing I've always found confusing about that viewpoint -- if God hates us that much, how could He possibly send Jesus? What would motivate Him to send Jesus? The whole idea of God so loving the world and so forth.

Plus, if one follows the Trinitarian idea, doesn't it set God against Himself? God the Father hates you, but Jesus-God loves you?

Redlefty said...


You nailed it. The father sent the son, but the son IS the father, so he sent himself because he hates us, but apparently loves us.

Glad I could clear that up.

Andrew said...

I have really tried to sift through my beliefs and take them to their logical conclusion. There are so many beliefs that I grew up with that, if you take them just a few steps out, take you to some pretty nasty and bizarre places. However, in the Christian community, very often, we are instructed to take things at face value. I think this is why Christians sometimes have trouble communicating a gospel message to someone outside the Christian subculture. Our thinking has become so inward and circular that it only works when articulated amongst those who already believe it.

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