Saturday, December 8, 2007

Love Isn't Exclusive

This is a quote from Jim Palmer’s book Wide Open Spaces, Beyond Paint by Number Christianity pp 185-86. He puts into words what God spoke to my heart and brought about my resignation from God’s Word to Women.

"Being in loves comes with its own supply of courage and conviction, but people concerned about their reputation need not apply. Love often requires relationships with others, and those “others” might not meet the societal standards of normalcy. . . which can stir up controversy. During my religion days, I essentially classified people into three groups. “Believers” were the in-group of people on the same page with our main beliefs and practices. “Unbelievers” were those we associated with in some way, hoping to convert them. Normally, unbelievers were very similar to me in terms of race, culture, and lifestyle. The third group, “really bad people,” were in a different group altogether. These people’s beliefs or behaviors seemed to epitomize everything we were against or didn’t believe in. The group was mostly comprised of people with erroneous theology and/or politics or grossly immoral behavior. It was not appropriate for believers to hang out with “really bad people.” This is where the religious version of “tough Love” kicked in—withholding love altogether.

Now I see these limitations I placed on love had no basis in the life or teaching of Jesus. Jesus pretty much undid my comfortable theory of love when he said, “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). This is a reminder that love is the foundation and, as such, a prerequisite for peace. The religious establishment condemned Jesus for hanging out with “sinners.” They had limits on their love; Jesus didn’t.

For many years, following Jesus’ example of love was implausible because my religious logic pitted my belief in God’s “holiness” in conflict with God’s “Love.” At times it made God seem schizophrenic. One minute god was too holy to look upon sinners; the next minute he was hobnobbing with the worst of them. The Christian belief system I constructed rested on the notion that God rejects sinners. Yet Jesus offered unconditional love and acceptance to them (us). Religion often implies one must “clean up your act” before receiving anything from God. Jesus, however had not qualms about leaving open forever the floodgates of God’s favor for people regardless of what condition they were in. Once, when questioned about it, Jesus responded, “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Mark 2:17). In fact, I think Jesus never had floodgates to begin with. In him, love flowed continuously and without even a means of restraint."

16 comments:

karen said...

That is awesome. This has been quite a journey, hasn't it? We've gotten some pretty awesome confirmation. It hasn't been easy, though.

But, when you come from a place of love, everything falls into place--it is so easy.
Nothing to question.
Just....love.
I feel like I'm back walking with Him.

Missy said...

oh, Pat, I'm gonna hafta marinade in this one overnight...

Pat said...

Thanks you two--acceptance is balm.

Gary Means said...

The name of Pam Hogeweide's blog came to mind as I read your post. It is "How God Messed Up My Religion". http://godmessedmeup.blogspot.com/

I cherish the freedom that I am finding as I reconsider my faith. I used to fear that doing so would risk being cut off from God. Instead, I am finding that He is all the more accessible, and I can see His hand more clearly, now that I am more open to Him working in ways beyond the narrow confines of my former fundamentalist and then conservative evangelical faith.

Mike said...

Pat, it seems a lot of us have been similarly conditioned. I still have a hard time believing God loves all of us in the way you describe, but now and then I catch another glimpse of it.

Your post takes me to that place again. Thanks!

Kansas Bob said...

I like your post title Pat.. I think that love.. especially the God type is unconditional and universal.

Yet I wonder.. I really don't know for sure.. some say they know for sure.. but I don't..

Will all people eventually love God.. is it just a matter of temporal/earthly ignorance.. is God unable to communicate His love to human beings in such a way that they can respond.. and when this love is eventually communicated will all respond to it the same way.. if so why do they respond differently now.. is it possible to reject divine love.. just some questions that really have no answers.. at least this side of death.

Hope I didn't sidetrack your post Pat.. feel free to ignore.

Blessings, Bob

Pat said...

Missy, how's the marinade?

Gary: Went to Pam's blog, ordered an audio book she recommended, The Porpoise Driven Life and added her to my list of favorites. Thanks

Mike: I think He's making us question our traditions. It started with me when I wouldn't accept the teaching that women were second class and God preferred men. Now He's messing with my fundamentalist positions. Beware the leven of the Pharisees!

Bob: Since it says the wheat and tares will be separated, must be some who won't love Him, but every knee will bow regardless.

Seems to me we chose our own way over His from the very beginning and it’s more than difficult to choose His. He say’s if we ask He’ll change us, and I see Him doing it in me and in others. We are all so different, even in how we respond to love. God makes most things unique—suppose it’s that way about how we respond to His love? I think so.

I appreciate your questions, they make me take a real look at where I am and what I believe. Keep them coming.

Kansas Bob said...

Pat, do you think that the "wheat and tares" mean that some will be separated from others going to different places? Just trying to understand where you are coming from.

Blessings, Bob

Missy said...

Pat, still marinading. I may for some time, too.

Your passage describes a lot of the reconciling I am currently performing with the understandings I have of God. Some of it is clicking into place, which should make me happy - but always tends to make me skeptical. Faith is somehow very simple and very complicated at the same time.

Hence, I marinade. {c;

Pat said...

Bob:
Jesus says the enemy has planted the tares and they will be seperated at the end, cast into the fire, I believe He says. I believe there are some who will not enter the Kingdom-- however...

I have a couple of thoughts here. One, God can change tares to wheat. The other, could the tares also be a part of us that does not yield to His hand. It says gold silver and precious stones will go through and the wood, hay and stubble will be burned. The latter are the natural, adamic qualities that don't have a place in His kingdom. Wonder if that might apply to tares.

Pat said...

Missy: Keep up the marinade. God sends rain on the just and the unjust. He also tells us to love our enemies. sometimes it's easier to love them than to love those close to us--soemthing about snemies being those in our own families. I want His qualities, to be able to say forgive them for they don't know what they do, or even forgive them because they are like me and do know what they are doing and do it anyway and He forgives me. That is one long sentence. anyway, it says in patience possess you soul and you are doing that.

Pat said...

Well, I just learned something else. I can't edit comments! Please overlook the typos. I'll be more careful from now on.

Kansas Bob said...

Nice to wonder Pat.. isn't it? I am wondering right along with you! Maybe some of those who seem to know can help us out :)

Missy said...

Pat & Bob, since you guys bring it up...

The wheat/tares thing. I've been reading in Matthew the parables of the kingdom. I've noticed that each parable starts with, "The kingdom of heaven is like..."

In Matthew 13:24, the parable of the weeds, which I think you were referring to, it says the "kingdom of heaven is like a man who sows good seed in his field..."

Then in verse 37, where Jesus is explaining this parable, "'The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.'"

Would this explanation mean that the kingdom of heaven IS Jesus (or does "Son of Man" mean man)? Am I reading this wrong?

Sorry to go off topic...

Pat said...

Missy: The Son of Man is Jesus.
In the Source New Testament Dr. Ann Nyland translates the Greek ho huios tou anthropou, meaning a person associated with humanity, as Human Being--the representative person. The Anchor Bible translates it “The Man”. The title is a direct reference to Daniel 7:13-14.

We can talk more about the Kingdom of Heaven later, but remember Jesus says "It is LIKE" not it is. He's making a comparison and He's talking about how the kingdom looks here on earth. It's a mixture.

Barbara (aka Layla) said...

I am loving Jim's book! thanks so much for stopping by and leaving me a comment, I added you to my links. I've been missing out by not reading your blog, its very encouraging!