Matthew records Jesus saying that “21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7: 21- 23 NIV http://www.biblegateway.org
This passage has bothered me even as a kid growing up because I’ve felt like I would be that guy, and POOF – eternal hell for me.
It didn’t matter that I complied with all the rules and beliefs of Baptist Fundamentalism the best that I could; I defended it, I worked hard to mentally rationalize much of it in my mind.
Not only did I defend it, I carried my little pocket New Testament to school prominently in my left front shirt pocket so all my friends could see it. I prayed over my lunches, then hopefully retrieved my dessert that the guys stole from my plate when I had my head bowed, and eyes closed. When our P.E. class had a section on dancing, even square dancing, I took that as worldly, and out of bounds for me. So during gym class, I would stand outside the door to the gym until class was over. When our pep band played the song, “Magnificent Seven”, which was also used as a theme song for Marlboro cigarette ads, I chose to sit back and refuse to play it. Of course I respectfully told my instructors why, and amazingly they didn’t put up any fuss. (They probably had never encountered a kid like me before, and didn’t have a clue as to what to do!)
I attended Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, worked hard at HyVee Food Store, while letting everyone know that I was a separated, CHRISTIAN, and literally saw myself as the good Christian example vs. the bad worldly UNSAVED men that I worked with. It was a case in my mind of good vs evil! How arrogant!! How naive of me!! Obviously, I was not ALL good, and equally, my co-workers were not ALL bad! In fact, they were no more good or bad than I was. I merely was adhering to the blue-printed set of rules embedded in my brain since childhood. And that had nothing to do with knowing God.
All the stuff I’ve done in church, teaching Sunday school, helping in children’s church, participating in youth activities, being a song leader, playing musical specials, directing choir are all so much Monopoly money when it comes to really knowing God.
I have never felt as if I’ve ever known God. What does that even mean?
People talk about a personal relationship with God. To me, that’s like talking about having a personal relationship with wispy ghostly fog.
Here’s the God I was raised with. . .
God created me to use in His war against Satan. God gave me specific talents to be used by Him, picked a specific plan for my life that I’d better blame well follow or else bad things will happen to me.
(In fact, just this past week, my father and I were out for breakfast, and my Dad asked me if I ever felt afraid of God doing or causing bad events to happen to me since I am obviously rebelling against God. 😦 I responded to him by saying ‘No’, and that ‘I don’t respond to threats well.’)
What kind of God builds a ‘relationship’ on fear and threats? I have no inclination to worship anything or anybody.
Love God? What does that even mean?
I was taught that God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. And this immensely wise, unmatched powerful God chose to create Lucifer, the most beautiful angel of all His angels. Lucifer chose to rebel against God, and actually managed to convince at least one third of the angels to go along with him. Think about that. One of God’s own creations turned on Him in a perfect environment, convinced one third of the angels to join him, and there was out and out war in heaven!! What guarantee would I possibly have that in the eternal future, war might not break out again?
Anyway. . .God, who knows all, even future events, still chose to make Lucifer, then cast him out to earth where He then created mankind. So I have to ask: What idiot would place his own children on a battlefield knowing that the enemy was still active there? Yet this is exactly what God did to Adam and Even.
God gave Adam and Eve a command to not eat the fruit of a certain tree, which of course they did, after being sold on the idea by the same creature who had also convinced one third of the heavenly angels to join him against God! And God gave no quarter for Adam and Eve being bamboozled by His own fast talking creation. It was an amazingly harsh penalty for one act of deluded disobedience. . .
According to fundamentalist theology, the entire human race was either ‘in Adam’ or ‘represented by Adam’ and so by default, every human being born is destined to burn forever in literal hell fire, for rejecting God’s plan of salvation. And it doesn’t matter if the humans had any chance to hear about their potential to avoid hell or not; it doesn’t matter if they were born and raised in such a civilization that had no concept of the Christian God. . .it’s all or nothing with God. Either believe, or go to hell. No excuses, no rational considerations at all.
So God created the original mess, and wants us to serve, worship and love Him? Really? All the suffering in this world is chalked up to sin and Satan. We are told we have a purpose, that everything that happens, happens for a reason.
If I accept fundamentalist theology on original sin, the reason is that God is an incompetent, unloving being who merely uses His creation for His own capricious whims.
I was told that we are in an eternal battle, God has already won, but we are destined to be soldiers in this war. I think this is bullshit. God could have chosen to cast Satan and his followers into eternal hell instantly, but no, not so much. . .
And that is why I cannot like, let alone ‘love’ this invisible ‘God’ that Baptist Fundamentalists have created.
And that was the God I was raised with. That God owes me, and everyone else whose lives have been devastated by these fundamentalist ideas a huge apology!
One final thought. . .if God is really so caring and loving, then why has He never shown Himself to me? If God ever told me to ‘depart from me, I never knew you’, my response would be ‘well, it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying on my part, where were You?’