23 February 2008

Jesus Loves Me?

This video over at Bible Versus would be funny if it weren't so sad.

What I find 'amusing' (if that's the right word) about this video is that I've always paraphrased the 'Gospel' (Good News?) that I learned as a child as being: 'The Father has to send you to heaven because Jesus died for your sins, but the Father is really angry about that because he hates your guts.' Obviously, I'm not the only person who got that message!

We Christians really do seem to be terribly afraid that God will love people we don't approve of. Grace is great when God loves me. Not so great when he loves people who I don't like.


Anonymous said...

I have posted on my blog about the irony of this situation, beautifully expressed in this video. Today, even in the US, there is no fear of hell with non-Christians (how can you fear it if you don't believe it in it?). So, to 'save their soul from hell', one must first convince the non-Christian that there is this awful place where you will be excruciatingly tortured for all eternity. If you get that far as to convince them, then you have to convince them that there is a God who made this place and will send you there if you don't believe in him. Third step, get this person to believe that this God loves you.

Perhaps this 'heaven or hell' situation is easier for people to understand - grace is given to those who we believe God really likes (or, we want God to like the ones we do). We seem to do this in other areas of life: it's easier to lock people up in prison and demonise them rather than believing that grace changes anyone. Actually, I guess it's easier to believe that grace will save us good people because we have faith rather than believing that God wants even us to be different by his grace.

Rev Tony B said...

You mean - circuit stewards will go to heaven? Will they be in the same place as the rest of us...? :D

Actually, I've had some great circuit stewards over the years, as well as those who should have been certified. But to address the point, why is it so necessary to major on the theme of judgement? I'm not saying there isn't a judgement, but I seriously wonder about making that the prime tool in mission. I remember a very conservatve friend telling me she'd had a Jehovah's Witness on the door, so she'd given him her interpretation of the gospel - now, she said, if he does end up in hell he can't say he never heard. That ws meant to be Christian outreach!

Some things really do say more about us than about the matter in hand.

PamBG said...

Tony: I'll defend my circuit stewards to the death; they are lovely good Christians and have been incredibly supportive and pastoral. After hearing some stories from other ministers, I'm incredibly grateful for these good people!

I don't believe in a hell that God creates and sustains and sends people to. I believe that some people go through hell on earth because of circumstances or physical or mental illness. I also believe in the hell of those who choose to be outside the presence of God for all eternity; but I think God weeps for all those 'hells'.

I certainly agree with you that it's a lousy way to proclaim 'God's good news'. What's wrong with proclamations of God's love, God's forgiveness of sin and God's resurrection? Sometimes we seem really worried that others will actually think that the Gospel is GOOD news rather than bad news.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Pam. I don't believe in a hell of eternal punishment, either. Also, that we preach God's love. Though there is room for preaching God's judgement, but not in the 'turn or burn' sense. I would say we have to preach judgement in the sense of what the archbishop of York did in cutting up his collar. Then again, this isn't to be separated from God's love, either.

Tony: your story of the girl and the Jehovah's Witness reminds me of my childhood. [Said covering my face so you cannot see me]: I remember spring breaks passing out tracks at Myrtle Beach with friends saying, 'At least they've heard'. [Shudders.]

PamBG said...

Though there is room for preaching God's judgement, but not in the 'turn or burn' sense. I would say we have to preach judgement in the sense of what the archbishop of York did in cutting up his collar.

Absolutely. I couldn't agree with you more.

I like to think of this as 'discerning right from wrong' and 'understanding God's will'. You are right that it's 'judgement'. The problem is that jodgement has become so polluted in the Christian context that I think it gets heard more as 'You're going to hell if you don't agree with me' than as 'God hates it when the helpless are exploited.' I expect 'Bible Versus' could get on board with the latter idea but most people don't hear it that way any more. Including a lot of Christians!

Paul Martin said...

It's an ace video. Funny but with a really serious message about our prockamation of the gospel.

Anonymous said...

Will you don't believe in the hell of eternal punishment when Scripture says about hell "there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" and reference to "the lake of fire"? However, I don't believe God sends anyone there people send themselves by rejecting Christ. "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has risen from the dead you shall be saved." So you see it isn't based on "who we like" or "locking people in prison", it is about helping people to receive Grace and understand what happens to all people and how people can receive eternal life "He that has the Son has life. He that has not the Son has not life."

At the same time, I agree with the Rev, judgement shouldn't be the main focus but that doesn't mean we should not mention it at all. There is a balance. To me it IS Good News to know that Christ made the Way for those by Faith in Him to have eternal life. I will say that having an attitude of "at least they heard" can be good because it says in Scripture "How can they hear in whom they haven't heard? How can they hear without a preacher?"

At the same time Rev, I really enjoyed your reply. We all need to have proper balance and you personify that. Thank you so much. We should love people into the Kingdom and at the same time tell people like a child with regard to a hot stove about the "hot stove" if you get my drift. dh

Anonymous said...

I will say that people who think God is angry with those who reject Christ who go to hell is also a misnomer. I really am sad for people who got that message from people as opposed to God crying at people sending themselves to hell.I thank God that I never was taught from a standpoint of God being angry with people rejecting God for eternity. However, I also don't apologize for believing that there is a literal heaven or hell that is eternal in nature. dh