Thursday, August 4, 2011

God, the Lover

Many Christians believe that since God loves his creatures, that He could not let his creatures suffer. By this logic, a loving God could not consign His creatures to Hell.
This belief is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of God.
God loves us, but not with the toothless love of a doting, senile grandfather, who sees no evil in his progeny and expects nothing from them.
Rather, He loves us with the burning fire of a lover, who expects and demands our undivided love, and will not be satisfied with anything less.
For Christ, who tells us to “be ye therefore perfect” (Matt 5:48) in the Gospels, expects us to be what He made us to be. And He will not stand for anything less. He will not accept us into His dwelling place if we are less than perfect. The Scriptures make it clear that "Nothing impure will ever enter it [heaven]." (Rev 21:27) 
We see a bare echo of God’s love in human romantic love.
For a lover expects and demands his or her mate to be everything he or she can be. At first, this is rendered easy by romantic attraction. Under the enchantment of “love,” it is easy for someone to idealize his or her lover, and to see them without their flaws.
But after enough time passes, initial romantic attraction fades, and the lover sees his mate as he or she truly is – the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. 
This is not to say that love stops after romantic attraction disappears. Rather, love becomes more demanding – and more truly loving – after the initial emotional attraction diminishes. No lover can overlook his or her spouse’s faults if he or she is to truly love.
And this is a good thing. I would not want to be in a relationship where nothing was demanded of me. If I am to give everything I am to my (future) wife, I must be willing to demand my spouse’s undivided love in return.
In short, a lover – a true lover – must demand that his or her spouse seek to become everything he or she is called to be.  
So it is with God – although in a deeper way, because God sees us as we truly are from the beginning – and because He quite literally gives us everything, including our very being. He demands that we become what He made us to be – and He is justified in so demanding.
He will not – indeed, He CANNOT – leave us to rot in our own sin and misery, unchallenged. He uses the spurs and stings of suffering to test his creatures and to strengthen us – so as to perfect us.
And if we spurn His love – He will not knock forever. If our will is set to resist Him, He will not force us to love Him. He will not stop us from choosing eternal separation from Him if we wish it.
For God, like any true lover, will respect the wishes of His beloved. And just as He does not allow us to remain complacent in sin, He will not force eternal life on His creatures if they continuously refuse to accept it.
He loves us too much for that.

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