the unbearable love of God

quite often people have said to me that God cannot bear us because of our sin.

I have thought for a long time that this is the wrong way round - it's us who can't bear Him.

however, it only occurred to me recently that the thing we cannot bear is not His anger, His wrath, His punishment, but His love.

God's complete, whole, unconditional, pure love is unbearable for us. don't get me wrong, I believe that God gets angry - I just believe that the pure holy love of God includes anger within it, and a purging of that which stops us from reaching our full potential that God envisions for us - tough love well before Oprah coined the phrase....

I have never been in a church where prophecy and words of knowledge abound and there has only been a total of two events in my life where someone has given me 'a word' - they have both been about being loved. The first was about being a princess of God and the second was Isaiah 43:4. I have to say these stay compartmentalised in a bit of my brain because if I open myself up to them for too long I think I'd explode. However, I don't think this is just something about me, broken as I am. I do wonder if this is a concept that the whole of God's Church and creatures find extremely troublesome?

It seems to find a home in the idea that we find unconditional forgiveness difficult to cope with. We somehow want to 'pay' for our crimes - this might also explain why people find the idea of universalism difficult (by the way I am not a universalist....) The idea that everyone might have been redeemed without any need for response is seen as 'cheapening grace'. Has anyone else ever wondered why the idea of everyone being in a whole relationship with God offends us?

My friend has a copy of someone's essay, we think, although we're not sure exactly who wrote it and I want to quote it here, it also quotes Moltmann, so I apologise for not referencing it adequately:

'At this point a number of questions are appropriate. Would an 'all-embracing' God who accepted all without apparently exercising moral discernment ultimately be seen as an ethically neutral character who was ill-equipped to stand as the guarantor of justice? Or has the event of the cross shown God's seriousness about sin and evil in such a way that mercy can now be seen as the highest expression of justice? Does the notion of justice wherein God makes the unjust just, one that tends towards the outcome of God imposing salvation upon all, overriding human freedom if need be? It is in this context that Moltmann does not claim to be a universalist but wonders if God may be one.

"Universalism is not the substance of the Christian proclamation; it is its presupposition and its goal. 'Behold, I make all things new': if that really is God's future, then everyone is invited and no one is shut out. Even for the people who reject it, the invitation stands, for it is God's invitation." Jurgen Moltmann, Jesus Christ for Today's World, p163'

I particularly like the notion that mercy might now be seen as the highest form of justice.

I just want to state again so it is absolutely clear - I am not a universalist....I have a problem with love that big.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can you define Universalism for the simpleton please?! No long complicated words, just nice 'n' easy.

Thank you!

Wendy G.