One of my favorite things to do in the morning is to grab my coffee and computer, my Bible and my journal, and watch the sunrise from the second-story deck of my split-level home.
My backyard is full of trees, and the birds and crickets begin their early-morning singing promptly at 5 am.
The sun these days doesn’t rise until 6:15 or so, and in the meantime, I light my citronella candles (to keep those pesky mosquitos away), and I talk to my Creator as I watch my dogs stalk the neighbors’ yard (because to them, my neighbors–some of the nicest people you’ll meet–are the enemy).
The sun rises perfectly every morning, just to the left of my line of vision, through a small clearing in the trees.
In the winter, when the leaves are dead and the trees are bare, I can see the sun more clearly, and it shines more brightly.
But in the summer, I pay less attention to the sun because the rays throw such a brilliance on the greenery around me, I’m stunned by the beauty of my yard and less focused on the sun itself.
This morning it occurred to me that my walk with God is a lot like the sun rising.
When times are good, I seem to be more focused on what I have, what’s going well and what I want more of. I still see God, but I’m not as connected to Him as I am to the gifts He’s giving me.
But when times are bad, when my life feels dead, I see Him more clearly. Even in times when it seems like I’ve lost His vision or I can’t hear Him, my focus on finding Him is larger than my focus on what I have.
The strange thing is, the same sun is there, “rising” or “setting” to us, though in its fixed position, we only call it that. We’re the ones moving, not the sun.
In the same way, I don’t believe God hides. The Creator is always there, always in His fixed position, though we move. We lose our focus, or we gain new insight, we change our mind, or we decide maybe we were okay all along.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my views on love. How we love, who we love, what love even means.
I believe God is love. Love is creating. Love is remaining. Love is choosing.
One of the biggest objections I have to taking the Bible literally is the idea some people hold that God has created an entire group of people as “vessels of wrath,” which in most of Christianity means people he ordained to burn in hell forever.
I’m sorry, but what man would willingly choose to put his trust or faith in a God who creates human beings just to burn them for eternity?
We should really sit with that. I don’t think Christians give enough thought to their beliefs about an eternal hell.
For example, there’s a statistic somewhere that says something to the effect of, 62% of Americans believe in a literal eternal hell, but only 1% believes they’re going there.
So basically, people who believe in hell, believe it was created for someone else.
And among those people, many of them profess to be Christian.
So here’s what I don’t get: If we call ourselves Christ-followers, then it would flow that our greatest act would be to follow Jesus.
And if Jesus’ greatest commandment was: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself” (which he called equal–in other words, you can’t have one without the other), then…
Are we really following the commandment of God? I mean, if we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, and we truly believe there will be people burning in hell for all eternity…
Then, shouldn’t we be dropping every single thing on earth to make sure this doesn’t happen?
But we don’t.
And I have a theory as to why:
Deep down, none of us really believes in a literal hell.
We want to. It would certainly make sense that the bad people would go to hell and the good people to heaven, right?
Or, when speaking Christianese, those that God chose will go to Heaven, but those that God rejected would go to hell…
Or, those that put their faith in Christ would share in his glory while entire people groups who don’t know Christ will burn for eternity…
It’s easy to surface-level believe those things, right?
But it’s quite another to really sit in that belief and picture it in your mind.
Human beings…burning…for eternity.
Where’s the love in that?
Believe what you will. But as for me and my household, we’re going to choose love.
The love that redeems all, conquers all, renews all.
The love that finds the Jewish man on the side of the road, and, even being the bad Samaritan, cares for him, carries him, and pays his debts.
The love that bashes in temples, tears down cathedrals and hangs dead things like sin on a cross.
The love that comes back and says, “I choose you.” Forever.
As I sat and watched my sun rise this morning, I thought, “I could be totally wrong about this, but I’m willing to take my chance on redeeming love.”
I’m willing to love those that certain Christian groups tell me not to.
I’m willing to love those that certain Christian groups support, even when I don’t.
I’m willing to love those who look different, talk different and believe different.
I’m willing to love when I’m tired of loving and don’t really want to love again.
I’m willing to love when I don’t understand, when I need to sit down, when I need to speak.
Before the sun peeked through the trees, I said to God, “I know this house won’t be here someday.”
Because they all fall.
“I know I won’t be here one day.”
Because we all die.
“I know that America might not exist one day.”
Because kingdoms crumble.
“I know that I will be a faded memory to someone, someday.”
Because we forget.
So let me go; let my house go, my people go, my country go, knowing that I left behind a legacy of love.
For love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
How are your views on Christianity and the love of God changing? I’d love to hear from you.