Love vs Judgement

One of the things that I hear far too often is something along the lines of, “I just can’t believe that a loving God would send anyone to Hell!”  You know what?  You have a point, but only if you don’t understand what love means.  Love is an attitude that prompts a person to action.  The attitude is quite simple: you desire what is best for another person.  The action that follows is you will do what you can for that other person, even if it involves sacrifice on your part.

One of the things that will flow from this kind of love is a desire to preserve the dignity of the one you love.  As an example, I love my wife dearly, and so I would never do something so unkind as strap her to a chair and feed her three times a day so that she wouldn’t have to go to “effort”.  Certainly, I could justify such treatment as an expression of love, but the reality would be that I was depriving her of human dignity, and actually harming her.  God is like that.  He created us in his image, and as a result he treats us with the dignity we deserve.

Part of the dignity of being human is being able to make choices in life.  I can choose whether or not I exercise (I choose not, and occasionally suffer the consequences of that choice).  I can choose whether to eat healthy or not.  This is the way of life.  I have learned from some of my bad choices not to choose certain things.  For example, I have learned that credit cards are bad for me.  Every time I get one, it gets maxed out within a month and I start dealing with late fees, which lead to over-balance fees, and the whole thing becomes a great mess.

Notice that I learned.  This is because all choices have consequences.  A loving parent teaches a child by allowing the child to make some bad decisions… and experience the consequences.  The trick to parenting is instructing the child, and then allowing the child to learn the hard way if he or she wishes.  Obviously, you don’t want to child to learn the hard way about certain things, like playing in the street.  But the occasional bump or bruise doesn’t do any lasting damage.

So what we have so far is dignity, love, and consequences.  What does God do during our lives?  He calls to us.  He begs with us to choose Him as lord of our lives.  He sent His son to die on a cross that we might approach Him as children.  He woos us, calls us, but ultimately leaves it to us as our choice.  We are given a few years to make a decision: do we want to spend eternity with God or not?

Imagine, for a moment, that Bill and Melinda Gates have a son, and that he has a few billion dollars inheritance.  Let’s call him Bob.  So let’s say Bob decides he wants to get married.  With all the money he has, he’s going to have trouble finding a woman who is willing to love him for who he is.  As a result, he dresses like a bum, leaves his money behind, and moves into a tiny apartment.  He gets a job at the nearest fast-food joint and eats his lunches there.  While working, he falls in love with a woman there.  Alas, she sees him as poor, with no future, and snubs him.  Hurt, he reveals who he is after another women loves him for who he is.  When revealed, both women will suddenly want him.  Will he allow the one who spurned him to marry him?  Of course not!  She made her choice.

The same goes for us and God.  We make the choice with imperfect perception of who He is.  Nevertheless, the choice we make stands.  God gave us a choice: be with me always, or be with me never.  Be the bride of Christ, or be outside the house.  God gives us that choice, and respects that choice.  Bob could claim to be the Gates heir while working fast-food, but no one would believe him.  Christ claimed to be the Son of God, but few believed him.  God is not going to judge you at the last days.  God is going to enforce your choice.  Your choices have consequences, and he will not shield you from them.  This isn’t a lack of love, it is a consequence of love.  He respects you too much to force you to do something you do not want to do.

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