Sunday, January 30, 2011
Having stepped out of Evangelicalism, it is easy to see the proclamation of an eternal Hell as simply a power grab. One's religion has a lot of command if no one comes to God except through you. Now that I am out of that subset of Christianity, I hear those statements as one amidst a myriad of other sects stating the same thing.
Each of them has the monopoly.
So many correct/only ways... so little time. :)
The thought of a generous and patient God would deprive them of control. It would also burst their hope for vindication. For within the heart of many religious people is a longing for the day when they will finally be proved RIGHT!
The writers of the scriptures recognized these characteristics ... and warned us against them many times.
Jonah was told to go preach to Nineveh. When God showed mercy to it's people, Jonah was not pleased.
"But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the LORD, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
But the LORD replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
In Matthew, we hear from Jesus the story of the workers. Some are hired at the beginning of the day, some just before quitting time.
"The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
“But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
In Luke, Jesus tells the famous story of the prodigal son. When the Father is overjoyed at the return of the prodigal, the brother becomes sulky.
"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!"
I think in our first moments, when we are all gathered before Him, there are going to be a lot of brothers, workers, and prophets who are bitter and angry. Angry because God gives generously to all without finding fault. That God kept no record of wrongs. That He always trusted, always hoped, always persevered, and did not fail.
These folks will sulk for a bit... but they'll get over it. :)
Posted by Andrew at 12:09 PM