Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you… Yes, I just lured you in with a Rick Astley song. For whatever reason I thought that set of lyrics was pretty relevant to what I am going to cover in this relatively brief post. My recent post “Who’s in control?” garnered the biggest single day number of hits for this blog. It also had a good number of comments and email responses. It seems my Christian friends have taken issue with my position that as human beings we are not wretched, worthless, disgustingly sinful beings. That we are not building up a debt of sin that will justify eternal torment and punishment forever, which can only be paid and forgiven by belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus. That all of our actions and imperfections somehow get erased by faith alone. Well, aside from the fact that the words of Jesus himself contradict the concept of faith alone in favor of “what you do to the least of these my brethren you do unto me“, it really doesn’t portray God as has often been the Christian position that God is love.
So, is God love? I believe so. Mostly because no science has been able to prove what causes love and that particular feeling or emotion is the thread that weaves humanity with a concept of morality. So what exactly is love? The Apostle Paul, who as most of you know I have been pretty critical of, wrote one of the most inspirational chapters of the Bible and it happens to be perhaps the greatest description of love. The chapter, for those of you who may not have guessed it, is 1 Corinthians 13. As the Bible has multiple translations this chapter reads differently from version to version. The most obvious difference is when comparing the KJV and the NIV. (to those not familiar - the KJV is the King James Version which was translated in 1611 and the NIV is the New International Version which was translated in 1984. These are the 2 best-selling translations) The KJV doesn’t use the word Love, it uses the word Charity. To the skeptic this would seem to be a problem, but not to me. Charity is, after all, a tremendous example of unconditional love. When one exercises charity, they give for the sake of giving, with no expectation of reciprocation. There is no doubt that is love. So, if God is love, why not use 1 Corinthians 13 as a description of God. For the sake of brevity, let’s just take the core of the chapter which are verses 4-7 and replace the words “love” and “it” with “the Lord“ (note- I am removing a few “it’s” for the sake of flow):
The Lord is patient, the Lord is kind. The Lord does not envy, does not boast, is not proud. The Lord does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs. The Lord does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. The Lord always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Now I ask you again: Is God Love? If so, than we have never been rejected, nor will we ever be. Why else would a word like “Father” be invoked so often? The way I see it, our Eternal Father never gave up on you, me or anyone else. It seems that for many people it really is the other way around.
For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you.. – Deuteronomy 4:31