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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What God Hates?

© 2012 by Tom King

Every once in a while, I read an angry post by an offended Christian that lists all the things God supposedly hates – things like agnostics, atheists, gay people and Democrats.  I do sympathize with the person’s desire to tell all the folk in those groups to go straight to hell. They really do say some nasty things to and about Christians, so I suppose it’s natural to want to tell them where to get off.  That is, after all, the point of these kinds of posts whether they actually use the 'H-E–Double Hockey Sticks' word or not.  

The trouble is that, as Christians, we are under orders from Christ, Himself, to treat others the way we want to be treated. What I understand from that is that we may not respond in-kind to nastiness.

I’d like to address one particular point I found in one of these angry missives. The writer said God hates atheists and agnostics.  As a former agnostic myself, I speak with some experience of agnosticism, when I say, “God never hated me.”  On the contrary, I was an agnostic simply because I had not yet met God, so agnosticism was an appropriate belief system for me.  I used to get into it with atheists as often as I did with Christians over the existence of God.  You can’t prove he doesn’t exist I told the atheists.  You can’t prove he does I told the Christians.  And that’s where I drifted until the day I met God for myself.

So, I'd go a little easy on the atheists and agnostics if I were making lists, which I occasionally do. I would argue with my well-meaning friend that God doesn't hate anyone. He gave his son for everyone. He even goes so far as to give us the very impulse to seek Him. That does not come from us. It is hard-wired into our DNA. God also gives us the ability to respond to love and to give love ourselves from the moment we draw breath.  This impulse to love and seek God is at war with our sinful nature - the product of a long history of human abuse of free will. 

In my own experience when I was an agnostic, I was searching high and low for God. And it wasn''t God blocking my path to Him.  It was well-meaning churchmen and women who thought they were doing God a favor by portraying him as an angry, judgmental, send-em-off-to-hellfire deity who would cast you into hell and torture you forever if you habitually skip Sunday School.They had fallen prey to the temptation to use fear to rally the troops. As an experienced troop rallyer, I can tell you that fear is a poor motivational tool.  When God sends an angel to help, the first thing the angel always says is "Fear not."  I assume from that that God doesn't use fear to frighten people into submission.  And, by "fear", I don't mean respect or awe. I mean the afraid for your life kind of fear.

When I finally met God himself, I cast aside my agnosticism quite easily, because it no longer served me. I had finally met the Father I was looking for and that made all the different. A list of all the things God "hates" probably isn't going to save a single soul. A list of the things God loves might be a more effective tool. For instance, how about this list?

  1. God loves a cheerful giver.
  2. God loves one who would give his life for another.
  3. God loves a kind word and a cheerful heart.
  4. God loves a patient man.
  5. God loves the world so much he sent his own Son to save us.
  6. God loves us so much he wants us to live forever.
  7. God loves beauty and truth.
  8. God loves unconditionally. He loves us even when we reject him.
  9. God makes everything come out for the best if we'll let him.
  10. God loves us so much he wants to give us the wealth of the whole vast universe.

In the end, I believe we should always be kind to others if we must make lists. You never know who is a tender heart, all wrapped up in a protective coat of agnosticism or atheism, but who is really, down deep, just searching desperately for the real God – the loving Father no one has ever introduced him to.

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