Saturday, February 16, 2013

Is God love?

A great truth.... IN CONTEXT!
     I was driving in a van with a colleague back to base when he mentioned a local Unitarian church with a common billboard announcement:  "God is love!"  My coworker wanted to get my take on it;  he had already asked another guy who disagreed with the announcement totally.  He knew I was a religious guy, so why not ask the Bible thumper?   Now the incredible part about this exchange, I believe, is not the question, or the slogan, but the gracious analogy the Lord gave to me.  By way of background, I have a confession that you might identify with...  I'm analogy-challenged.  Someone will say something in Sunday School or bible study, or a question is raised, and the best, most theologically correct formula will come to mind, but I get stuck on how to express it!!!  I'll sit there and struggle to find a relationship or situation from a modern context that applies, or even worse, start to use something but then realize it doesn't adequately communicate what I was trying to.  The worst part is when your attempted analogy actually contradicts the point intended! 
     Now don't get me wrong:  analogies are good!  Jesus repeatedly and perfectly whips out great illustrations for His audience, situations that wonderfully "put the cookies on the bottom shelf" for all who are dim of sight and dull of ear (all of us, in other words).  So it was similarly wonderful for God to give me the perfect analogy to answer my coworker.  When speaking generically, as our slogan does, we must be careful to balance our response:  an example attempting to counter the implicit universalist heresy, but unbiblically swinging way too far, would be "No, God isn't love... He hates sinners!"  It is both true that God is love and "angry with the wicked everyday" (Ps 7:11, 5:5-6, 11:5-6).  So how to quickly and succinctly spell that out?  I asked him this:  "Well, if we were trying to communicate everything you are, your essence and character, your nature comprehensively for all time in one phrase, and we said (using a pseudonym here for obvious reasons)..."
"Sam is a bus driver!"
I dread seeing this one!
"Would that be a good way to put it?  Does that capture everything you are?"  He thought for a second, and I continued, "I mean, it's true that you are a bus driver, but you're a lot of other things!"  He saw the point, so I tried to bring it home:  "So the Bible does clearly say in those exact words that 'God is love', but without relating how His love interacts with and complements His justice, for example, or stating Whom God loves, that statement is, at best, incomplete."  We were nearing to base, so as quickly as possible, I sketched out a few Unitarian Universalist distinctives and how, in light of those, their slogan was intended to deceive people and sway them away from the exclusivity of Christ.  Basically, U.U.'s believe that god is one person (like Muslims or United Pentecostals), but also try to combine and fold in every other religion by viewing all gods as one:  Allah is Jesus is Buddha is Ganesh is etc.  So with this in mind, since god is one and he is love, we just need to love everyone, respect their beliefs as valid and "true for them" and peacefully coexist (presumably while saving the trees!).  The problem with this lie is that the real God, the One who actually exists, is coming to judge us some day soon and this is how He'll "coexist" with His competitors:
"But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation.  Thus shall you say to them: "The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens." (Jer 10:10-11)
     All those outside of Christ and without His protection will be naked and hopeless in the Day that Jesus reveals all other "gods" (Dt 32:17) as false and destroys them.  There is one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.

Photos courtesy of abocon, brownhorsegarments

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