Is God Petty?

Is it wrong for God to expect us to worship Him? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, I found myself in a discussion about the question of how can people be happy in Heaven knowing that they have loved ones in Hell. As the discussion went on, I focused on one point which got us to a different area. I pointed out that if Jesus rose from the dead, then Christianity is true and there is an answer to the question. If not, then it’s just trivia. I could even be willing to say “I don’t know” but it would be foolish to say “I’m abandoning Christianity because while I’m convinced Jesus rose from the dead, I don’t have an answer on this question.”

Instead, we wound up discussing if God is petty or not. After all, God expects us to love Him and worship Him. Wouldn’t a loving God just give everyone a break? Life has enough suffering as it is. Isn’t it petty to have the whole turn or burn mindset?

Keep in mind, my view of Heaven and Hell is quite different. Still, it is a question we all have to deal with. Even those who profess conditional immortality would have to answer how it is they can be happy if they know they have loved ones who they will never ever see again.

Yet now, I want to focus on the whole charge of God being petty, because it is something we come up against. On the surface, it does look that way. God wants us to worship and adore Him. If we don’t, we are cast aside from Him. Loved ones are separated in that sense. How does this make sense?

Part of our problem is we have a view of God where we just make God a big person. He is just like us, except He has the omni-attributes. If you’re going to study this, you need to realize that God is very different. Whatever the view of God is we have in our mind, it’s in some way inadequate.

Second, we need to ask people where they are getting their theology from. If you make claims about God, how do you know this? If you think God is fair and loving and things of that sort, how is this known? Any claim about knowledge of God needs to be backed. If one wants to turn the question to me, it’s my position that if Jesus rose from the dead, He’s someone worth listening to and I do believe the Gospels are reliable.

So let’s look at the question. For one thing, at the start, Christians were always exclusive. This was even the case when they gained nothing from it. They were on the outs with the Roman Empire and with the Jewish people as well because they said Jesus was the true Lord of the universe.

We often think love cannot be exclusive. This is false. Not only is love exclusive, it has to be exclusive. If you love anything, you will exclude that which is contrary to it. This is one reason I don’t like “hate” being described always as a negative. Hate is not always bad. There are plenty of things we ought to hate. We ought to hate the great evils that we see in the world.

When it comes to the question of God, there are benefits for loving God. There is nothing wrong with this. If a man and a woman love each other, then in a marriage bond, there are benefits they share that others don’t have. There is nothing mercenary about that.

Likewise, if you do not have that commitment, then you do not get the privileges of the commitment. Other people, including other men, can love my wife in some sense, but they are not to love her in the exclusive sense that I do and only I get the benefits of that kind of love. If they had made a covenant instead, they would be having those privileges instead of me.

There are also costs in the case of God. If one rejects the revelation of Jesus knowingly, then one is in essence not only saying Jesus is a liar, but saying that God has not revealed Himself in Jesus. That’s a big claim and one had better be right on. On the other hand, if someone like myself is wrong, then I am guilty of the worst kind of blasphemy against God. I have to be willing to accept that.

If one does not accept God’s way, then one is going their own way. It is a rejection of God. If they don’t want to be with God, then God will honor their request. He will not force Himself on them.

Many of us also assume that we are innocent. It’s not that way at all. No one of us lives a perfect life. We all know that. We all know ways we can do better. God could have just been just and said none of us will be with Him for eternity. He did not.

We also have to ask that if God is going to be loving and forgive all, then what about evil here? Will there never be justice? Do those who lived their lives consistently going against God get all the benefits of those who did the exact opposite?

Once again, all of this depends on if Jesus rose from the dead. If He didn’t, then we could be discussing trivia. We might just have to see if another religion is true or if God revealed Himself some other way or just hope for the best. It is a tough situation then.

But if Jesus did rise from the dead, then we do indeed have great hope. We are forgiven and we will be in the presence of God. Not only that, all the suffering we undergo will be redeemed one day. God does not waste our sufferings in this life. Death itself will be overcome.

That is good news.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Bad Thinking On Love And Hate

Is love ever wrong and hate ever right? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We live in a society that loves to talk about love. We also see one that hates any mention of hate. Unfortunately, we do not really think about those terms. What does it mean to love someone? What does it mean to hate someone? We live in a world where it is assumed that if something is love, then that is something that is good, and if something is hate, then that is something that is bad. You can hear slogans like “Love is never wrong.” You can also see groups such as the anti-bullying group “We Stop Hate.” Is there a problem with this language?

Why yes there is because in fact some things you should not love and some things you should hate. Things you should hate you should hate proportionally and the same with things you should love. Let’s look at hate for instance. The group “We Stop Hate” is out there wanting to stop bullying. Question. Do they love bullying? Of course not. What would they think of someone who loved bullying? That person has a problem. In fact, it could be that “We Stop Hate” actually hates bullying. That’s why they want to stop it.

What about love? We’re often told love is never wrong. Well actually, it is. In fact, loving good things can be wrong if you don’t love them properly. Food is meant to be a good thing God created and we should delight in it, but what happens if you love food too much? Well that’s one way that gluttony exists. Married men, like myself, tend to love sex, but what happens if you love sex more than you love your wife who you have sex with? Well if that’s the case then you’re actually using her. I love games and some other guys love sports. What happens if you love those more than your responsibility to your wife and as a Christian, to your God? Then you have a problem and that is a form of idolatry.

We’re often not even clear on what love is. Technically, you don’t love things. You like them. Love is reserved more for persons. It is good to love your family, your friends, your pets, and your God. What love really means is to seek the good of the other for the sake of the other. This can produce powerful feelings and emotions, but love is not one of these things. Our world often thinks that if we lose that feeling or emotion, then the love is gone. In fact, this can lead us to a deeper love. The tragedy is many of us still want the old way of love. The same happens with our relationship with God. Many times God does seem to withdraw His presence. He is wanting us to walk deeper with Him and come to know Him not just through what we feel about Him, but to know Him as He is in Himself. It does not mean that the feelings and emotions will not return. It means though that we are to live on a deeper level. We cannot treat the feelings as if they are mandatory or as if God owes them to us.

I also happen to agree with Lewis who told us that you cannot love something too much. You just love a greater good too little. Suppose you fear you love something more than God, which should be a concern for all Christians. If so, then the goal should not be to love the object you love more than God less. It is to love God even more than that. If you are a sex addict, it is not your goal to love sex less. It is your goal to love sex properly and in ways that are not wrong and to love God more knowing that if you love God more, you will in fact be putting sex in its proper place.

As for hate, if we love something, we will naturally hate something else. We will hate that which is not good for that which we love. Suppose my wife got cancer. I am not going to say then that I love cancer. Not at all. I will hate it because I love my wife and I hate anything that is opposed to her good. The question is not if we are going to hate anything or if we are going to love anything. We will do both and we must do both. The question is are we going to hate the right things the right way and love the right things (Or persons rather) in the right way?

And what way is that? If we are Christians, we must look to God and get our loves and hates in line with His. If He loves something, so should we. If He hates something, so should we. Whatever is on top of His love list should be on top of ours and whatever is lesser on His should be lesser on ours.

Let’s move past this idea that all love is good and all hate is bad. It’s not. If we want to be informed thinkers and speakers and Christians, we need to recognize distinctions. Let’s get our own loves and hates in order.

In Christ,
Nick Peters