I am getting pretty fed up with some common articulations of theology – particularly the notion that God does or will punish us. God does not and will not punish us. He is not the sadistic schoolmaster or the punitive Beak. The image of God as retributive judge is the entirely understandable existential, anthropomorphic fiction of an over-enthusiastic Old Testament prophet. Of course in a sense the prophet was right. We do suffer and might even feel we are damned. But the truth is that we go to hell in the handcarts of our own making. That is to say, we suffer when we go against the will God expresses for us and which is exemplified in his laws.
All this is relatively simple. But – next question – why are things so ordered as to be peculiarly difficult for us? The answer is in God’s omniscience: because his way of ordering things is the best way and all other ways he considered and rejected
Why do you not believe that God loves you? That not one hair of your head perishes without his noticing? He has told you so many times that he loves you. What more do you want him to do – to die for you? Well, let’s not get into that…
We fallible creatures know something of what love is. It is what we prize above all. Do you think God’s love is weaker than yours? We can only love because God first loved us. All our human love – ecstatic and deep as it can be – is but a pale copy of God’s love for us. We could not even think these things outside of God’s love.
God is love and nothing else
As the Collect for Ash Wednesday has it, he hateth nothing that he hath made. If you will overlook the romantic flourish, do you think for a minute that God would condemn what he has fashioned by his own beautiful and holy hands? Consider the heavens, the works of his fingers, the moon and the stars which he hath made. Man is and God is mindful of him. That’s us.
But nasty things happen. Yes. So what? The loving Creator knows what he is about. It doesn’t matter. Whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or whether we die, we die unto the Lord. Whether we live therefore or whether we die, we are the Lord’s
For God’s sake, Peter, cheer up!