…. I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – Jesus, John 14:6
These words have been twisted by many radical Christians to mean cruel things. So many times they have been used against me and my community to exclude us from God’s love and mercy. The people who cite this verse out of context claim to be able to know for sure who will go to heaven and who will go to hell. They are arrogant enough to claim to be privy to knowledge and decision making that are purely God’s business.
I was recently told that God would only save those who believe in Jesus as God and God’s son. I told the people who said this to me that quite frankly I don’t think that God is so cruel that He would condemn to eternal damnation someone who is a good person but doesn’t ascribe to very specific theology. Silence fell over the room. Somehow this idea that God is merciless has taken over a lot of Christianity. It’s one of the reasons why I left. To be fair, when comparable things are said by my fellow Muslims I am just as outraged.
Christians, your own Bible says that God is love. What sort of loving God would be so unjust as to ignore someone’s sincere efforts at being good, and punish a good person for simply not believing in a very specific theology that varies depending on your denomination? If we are God’s children as you say, what kind of sadistic parent would torture their child for all of eternity just for a sincere mistake? It sounds pretty evil to think that God is so terrible. I do believe He is the epitome of love, and I don’t know what definition of love you ascribe to, but last time I checked loving someone doesn’t involve torturing them for a silly reason.
Excluding people from God’s love and mercy is not your job. You have no right to make that call. Furthermore, as Christians and simply as moral people you’re supposed to be reflections of God’s love. It’s not very loving to think that someone deserves hell because they don’t agree with your theology. The nice thing is that the Bible itself offers a wonderful definition of love and its importance. I’ll leave you with just that to ponder.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
– 1Corinthians 13