Being Afraid of God…. (Part 2)

This is a continuation of the previous post about being afraid of God. It is a precursor to undertanding the underlying message of the book we are reviewing:

If Grace is trueOf course, her final question reveals the deeper issue hidden in any discussion of ultimate human destiny. Who is God? Is God a gracious, loving father waiting long through the night, with the light lit and the door open, confident his most defiant child will one day come home? Or is God a harsh judge eager to pass sentence, eager to punish and destroy all who do not satisfy him?

I hope you will consider the possibility that God is gracious beyond your expectation. I hope that in reading this book you’ll have an experience with God that will transform you. I hope you’ll hear God’s voice. I hope you’ll believe the very best about God. I hope you’ll not be so afraid you’ll shut this book and read no further.

I assure you that since I have come to believe in the ultimate triumph of God’s grace, no lightning bolt has struck me, no plague has cursed my children, and no earthquake has destroyed my home. But then, the God I’ve experienced never does such things.

Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-03-17). If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person (Plus) (pp. 46-47). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The idea of universal salvation strikes fear in many clergy leaders in the church today. They believe that if you take away God’s anger and replace it with his love that they will lose control of their congregations.  So, to me much of this fear is the fear of humans losing power over others.  Being afraid of God is so endemic in too many churches.

I read the words of Jesus on a daily basis and in those words I see God’s love  much more so than His wrath. As Mr. Gulley states in the end it comes down to who is God?  I will put my eternity on the line to align with the God of love who wants us to experience his grace first-hand. He has an agape love for all of us and I do mean all. I believe the very best of God.

While I am not done with the review of this book I think I have given you enough to pray that you get a copy and consider the idea of universal salvation. It is not as radical as some of your clergy will try to convince you it is. God doesn’t take pleasure in cursing his children but in loving them. If agape love and grace is true then why wouldn’t God have a plan to save every person?

Many mock the idea of universal salvation but I think maybe they do that out of fear rather than sincerity. God clearly said he loves all of us and wants all of us to be saved. I am beginning to understand that he is capable of doing just that if we humans quit trying to put conditions on him.

Putting Conditions On Accepting God’s Love…..

I am going to jump off the series of posts about God’s grace for a quick aside.

It amazes me how God can have agape love for us humans. He puts no conditions on his love and he loves each and every one of us. Knowing that God’s love for me is not dependent on me is reassuring indeed. It also amazes me how we Christians seem to put so many conditions on accepting that love!

I was recently vegging out for a few minutes with TV and came across a series that documents a Hutterite community. I didn’t get much info about it so I went to Wikipedia to try to learn a little more. Hutterites are Anabaptist in nature. They are similar to the Amish and Mennonites in that regard. It was obvious from the TV show that the male is the dominant figure in the family; women are very secondary to them but I’m getting off topic here.

The scene I watched was of a young, probably twenty-something, girl trying to get permission from her mother to go to an out-of-town wedding. The mother went on and on about how she didn’t like that idea as the girl might do something to jeopardize her upcoming baptism. She wanted reassurances that the daughter would not do anything “crazy” while she was gone. She just didn’t seem to trust her daughter when she said she would “behave”. Eventually mom gave in and off the daughter went. That is all I saw so I don’t really know if the daughter “behaved” or not.

It seems strange to me to put some conditions on being baptized and given my Catholic roots it is also strange that a twenty year old is still unbaptized. I am not trying to judge the folks on the TV show or even the Hutterites in general.  Generally I am more aligned with Anabaptists than most other versions of church.  They, unlike many other churches try to live out their faith in very discrete ways.

To illustrate another story about conditions that are placed on God’s grace by the church we need only go to the first stories out about the new Pope Francis. It is said that he chastised priests under him for refusing to baptize children born out of wedlock brought to them. Thank heavens (literally) that a future pope set the priests straight in this instance.

The point of this discussion is more about us putting conditions on getting God’s love when he puts none on giving it. To me baptism is one of the most fundamental ways of accepting God’s love. To say that you have to earn God’s grace by behaving in a certain manner seems strange to me, especially when it comes to baptism.