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CHURCH CORNER: God is the God of love, thank goodness
When I hear the words, “God hates _____” (fill in the blank,) I begin to wonder how the speaker could ever come to that understanding of God. If God is love, then can God hate? Somehow everything that is existent is contained in God, even evil itself. That is a very hard idea for me to wrap my mind around. But, it has to be true. God somehow allows evil into that which is God-created and is God-filled.
The psalms tell us there is nowhere that we can go that God is not. If God is truly love, and I cannot get away from God, then hate should have no part in my language or my religion. I cannot find the God of love in hating. Oh, I know the saying, hate the sin, love the sinner. But, that is truly a cop out for most people to disguise their hatred, anger, fear and bigotry with what sounds like a really good idea until it is used to keep people out, put people down, live in anger, hatred and bitterness without considering the humanity of the other.
In the book of Genesis, the two stories of creation – yes, there are two very different stories, and we have to live in the tension between the two – are not about one sect, people group, ideology or even religion. They are about all of us, all humanity – created out of love, created to be in relationship with God and with each other, to care for our garden home and to live out the love that was given so freely to us. God created and called it good. We muck it up. God does not hate; we do. And we do it so well, that many groups, religions, sects and churches are built upon the hating of someone else not like them.
The rest of the Bible after Genesis is the story of how we mess up and God’s love does not get shared. Even those of us who believe God came to us in Jesus Christ for the salvation of the earth know that the process is not over. We are still being reconciled; we are still being called back into a relationship with God. For most of us it is a daily occurrence, remembering that we are the ones who go astray. God does not! God is love, God loves and God does not hate. We hate; we call names; we ostracize; we keep out others; we refuse help; we save the best of everything for ourselves, hoard the earth’s resources; we teach hatred to our children and in many ways are still living outside the garden with Adam and Eve trying to justify our actions most often by saying, “God hates the other.”
We are supposed to be on our way back to the garden, the new heaven and the new earth. Where will hate fit in that world?
There are many things God does. God calls, God reconciles, God forgives, God leads, God shepherds, God cares, God heals, but most of all God loves. If love is of God, and if Jesus Christ is God with us, the love of God in human form, then we must learn to become like God, following Christ, clothing ourselves with Christ for the sake of all humanity.
God is love. Thank goodness, for if God hates, there is no hope for you or me.