ideas with faces

Can God hate?

The more I think and pray and roll the idea around in my mind the more and more ridiculous it seems.

How can love hate?

Part of this entire issue is around what love is. We all use the word but when we say it what do we mean? While many would simply say “Go read 1 Corinthians” there’s more to it than that, and not just because I like to think there is more to everything.

Is love a feeling?

Is it an action?

Peter Rollins has said that love doesn’t exist but is the thing that allows other things to exist.

I took a course in university every so many years ago now and I was presented with a view on love that resonated and worked on so many levels that I’ve used it ever since.

Love is a motive.

Love is why I am patient. Patience is the action of my loving motive.

As a motive I can choose to let that be the reason I act or not. I can choose love. I don’t need to feel it. Which means I can’t opt out when love doesn’t work for me. When I’m mad, offended, scared, I can choose to be motivated by love.

Is hate motivated by love?

Is it love of God that motivates hate?

Is it love of the church that motivates hate?

Is it love of the one we hate that motivates the hate?

I can see how our love could motivate a choice to hate. A deep love of family could cause some to hate those who would mean to do harm to my family. It seems to be working until those that would mean to do harm have a face. Until I ask how my actions towards are motivated out of love towards them? How is love causing me to act towards them?

I feel like this is where it always gets muddy. The notion of hating an idea works. But ideas wear faces.

I could see God hating the idea of sin. This thing that separates us and has corrupted His creation. But once that brokenness became a part of us, once sin wears a face, I struggle to see God hating us, no matter how ugly.

Perhaps its in this dichotomy we find how a God of love can hate. Hate ideas that separate and harm, but once that idea is manifest in a person I continue to see an issue with God hating that part of them. Loving only bits and pieces rather than the entire whole.

If God doesn’t hate parts of us, how does he feel towards sin in us?

This is going to take some more thinking.

a hateful God

This idea is far less formed than usual and that’s saying something because few of my ideas or things I write about here are particularly well formed.

They are often more of a glimpse into something I’m currently considering, but have been pondering for a while.

This is a far more raw kind of thought. While in some way or another it has crossed my mind, it’s never been exactly this clear.

Can God hate?

I feel like I write the follow sentence every time, but I guess it’s just part of my charm (or lack of creativity, whatever works for you).

It’s seems like the obvious answer is yes, but I’m starting to worry that it creates some serious problems.

And this is the raw nature of this particular idea. I’m working and thinking about the implications and possible problems that a God how can hate creates, but these ideas are really new and not fully formed at all. So if you see an obvious issue here I’m interested. I’m just starting to roll this idea around in my mind so any new ways to approach it are helpful.

I’ll lay out how I got here and the starting point for the possible problem I see.

It started with justice. Specifically the notion that we may put our idea of justice onto God rather than look at God for what He means when He talks about justice. Quick recap, so much of God’s work is restorative it stands to reason that His justice would be similarly restorative rather than mimic our punitive process of exacting justice.

This idea stems from a God who describes Himself as love.

God is love.

And so God’s justice must be love. It must take the form of love and be a display of love. Everything God does is an expression of love because He is love. To do something that isn’t loving would be counter to His nature and His essence.

As a tree can’t be any less a tree, God by virtue of His nature will be love.

So how is the hate we often ascribe to God an expression of love?

How is hate a loving act?

How is hate not counter to the very nature of God?

Most we agree that we shouldn’t hate people. We should love them, but I’m wondering if the type of love we are showing is God’s love of a projection of our broken understanding of love.

I was reading a blog earlier today and the writer was talking about how we should react with love no matter the situation. The write then went on to describe all the people we should love.

Gays, lesbians, transgender people, heterosexual adulterers, atheists, white-lie tellers, good-churchgoers-without-a-shred-of-grace–any and all people who have issue with the hard words of Scripture–these are not our enemies.”

I posted the following comment

“I know for myself. If the way I was defined, labeled and grouped was based on a list of things people hate, I would struggle to find any reaction not matter how well intended as a loving one.”

And so again I’m left wondering, how do we lovingly hate?

Are we called to only love parts of people? To parcel them into pieces, those worthy of our love and those that we get to hate.

Is that the radical love of Christ or ours?

It may be, but I’m far less sure that’s how it’s supposed to work than I was in the past.

apathy, likes and life of compassion

You could make the argument that tools are neutral.

A knife can be used for good or evil. I could use it to provide shelter/food/safety or for harm and darkness. I think this is why you hear people talk about things as a double edged sword. Good and bad.

The internet is very much the same. We talked about opportunity and connections yesterday and how the interest does so much for someone with intent. But wow do we ever misuse it. We abuse this tool in some really powerful ways. Like with so many tools, when we abuse it people often end up hurt.

It doesn’t take much to find the harsh and evil side of the internet. Go read a comments section on YouTube and you’ll get it.

But I think it can also build apathy for us.

“Well I said happy birthday on Facebook, what more do I need to do?”

“I liked all their pictures I don’t understand why we don’t connect better.”

“Of course I love my community I Facebook/tweet/email all the time”

The internet is the perfect space to, with almost no effort, present yourself as someone who cares. This is by no means universal but it’s so easy to do. So easy to like all the right things and share all the “proper” links so every can see and know how great we are. And then be done. No action, no follow through, nothing.

It’s so easy to be harsh and cutting to someone sharing a dissenting opinion when we don’t have to see them face to face. So easy to pick a fight and show how righteous or smart or whatever we are.

So easy to not love.

So easy to try and be right, forgoing unity and grace.

I’ve often wondered how true a representation of ourselves the internet is.

Is it the ultimate who we are when no one’s watching? We can look at things and no one will know. We can be cutting and mean because no one knows we wrote it. Just a screen name. It’s in a space where our local community will never see it. Does our real self come out when we know there are no eyes on us?

I don’t know but I wonder some times.

Facebook is the opposite. A perfectly crafted image of the person we want people to think we are. All the right movies, books and causes. Witty posts all to present some sense of togetherness or wholeness.

We have to be so careful to be consistent. That love dominates our online selves the way we try for it to dominate our offline self. We don’t get a pass because it’s the internet. We don’t stop being a disciple once we log on.

Even if no one knows it us.

reallocating

This week I’m asking you to take the money you usually spend on yourself (buying coffee, eating out, new shirt, whatever) and spend or give it to someone. Ideally not a random act of kindness sort of thing but someone you’re in relationship with.

Random acts of kindness are fine, but I’m asking you to leverage this generosity for greater depth and love.

You know someone who’s struggling to cover bills? Help them out. Cover their cell bill this week.

Someone at work having a terrible day? Take them out for lunch, your treat.

You see how this requires relationship.

How awkward and strange to just tell someone you want to cover their phone bill when you don’t know them? You’d need to know them, talk often and understand their life. Know that bills are hard and with Christmas coming up things will be even tighter.

Maybe you say “Hey, I know things have been tough. I got this gift card so you can get your kids something cool for Christmas.”

Or just drop off a coffee on someone’s desk and say “looks like you needed one.”

Spend you actual real money on someone else this week.

And no it’s not a rule. You can buy yourself coffee too or eat out with your family. But if you spend $200.00 on yourself and family this week with dinners out and Starbucks, then pass along a $1.50 Tim Horton’s to a person at work, you’re missing the point.

it just works

I was struck again by how much I like this idea.

There have been loads of times I’ve said “let me know if you need anything” and then I can’t do what the person needs. I’m to busy, not skilled and at times just don’t actually want to. But by making a list I’m forced to consider what I’m honestly prepared to do. It forces me to think about the person, our relationship, what I have to offer.

I like that it doesn’t force the person your trying to support to do one more thing. To worry about if my offer was sincere, which some times it wasn’t. To consider all that needs to be done or all the ways they need support and judge what they feel comfortable asking for. No concerns about asking to much or asking when the offer wasn’t real.

You offer what you can honestly do and the person you’re supporting simple has to pick and choose, no thinking or worrying.

It just works.

 

less thinking, more loving

I think to much.

Everything is interesting to me. Most of if it, interesting to no one. I can’t tell you how many times I ask Sarah “Hey, have you ever thought of ______?”

“No.”

“Isn’t that interesting though? It’s never crossed your mind?”

“No.”

I love to know why things happen and how they work. But this need I have can cause a lot of damage.

On more than one occasion I can think of someone sharing their excitement, “look at this” or “you’ll never guess what I got” or “look what I’m being asked to do”.

Instantly I want to understand. Why is that interesting? Why would you buy that? Who would possibly ask you to do this?

I can be a real jerk.

I just can’t understand the why or how and so I try. I start to ask questions, but my questions don’t encourage, the discourage. Often my questions don’t add to the excitement but quash it.

Often my need to understand robs the person I’m speaking with of their joy and happiness.

Maybe this never happens to you. Maybe you’re great at being excited with someone.

But if you’re like me, we have got to be less selfish, because there is nothing loving about it.

just shut up

Some times we need to shut up.

We may know what’s best. We may be right. Shut up anyway.

My mother often asks the question “to what end?”

So often the end is my rightness. I need people to know I was right. They need to know how smart, or clever, or whatever I am and my rightness will show them. But it’s really all about me. It’s not for them.

There have been so many times I’ve told someone what to do and how to do it and they refuse to listen. A few weeks later they come back and tell me how they’ve changed or solved their problem and it’s exactly what I said to do. But they needed to find it. They needed to get there on their own.

I needed to shut up. I needed to listen.

As compassionate people we are called to love and there are so many times when love means we hold our tongue.

It’s nothing earth shattering. Listening is often better than talking. But the reminder that even when you have the right answer the answer is still often, shut up.

a chance easily missed

This space is heavy with things to do.

It’s a lot of ideas and actions to integrate and try in your life.

Your busy, already full life.

Rest isn’t something that’s valued in the West. We value drive. But rest is such a Godly thing.

Don’t miss it.

Don’t miss the need to stop. Don’t miss the need to connect with God. Don’t miss the need to be silent and listen. Don’t miss the chance to let God speak. Don’t miss the chance to just be quiet.

Commit to rest. Don’t let the busyness of life and doing good work push rest out of your life.

And if you’re not the type who has ever rested, today is a great day to start. I know a prayer you could say.

come and see my brokenness

Did the prayer of brokenness resonate with you?

Are you aware how broken you are?

We talked yesterday about what Jesus has actually called us to. What we often say we want to be about. I really believe that for there to be a connection between the people we say we want to be, the one Jesus talks about, and the person we are takes hard self-reflection.

Sometimes we really need a prayer like that when we start to reflect.

Honest, full of real pain and worry. One where we don’t lie to ourselves or God. From the heart. The head has been told God is coming, but the heart worries. He may never come. This persistent darkness may be just that, persistent. One where God doesn’t just show up and fix the world at the end. No “I know you hear me and all will be ok.” Because if you’ve ever been there like I have you don’t know that.

God may not come.

But we still praise God.

Not because He fixes us but because He is worthy.

I think this honest reflection on our pain, brokenness, and doubt is important. Its important when we reach out to community. It’s important in our own lives. How can we expect to connect when we answer everything with “don’t worry God’s going to fix it” when there is a distinct possibility that what the person is praying for, broken because of, or pain they are feeling won’t just go away.

Life is too complicated for insincere or simple answers.

It’s all a part of Gods plan.

God is in control don’t worry.

You just need to trust more

Maybe you need to have a little more faith.

Placing God as some kind of fix all solution cheapens who God is and starts people down a path that can often lead to hatred and resentment of God. If you’re told that if you believe in God he will fix everything. And then you go to church and sings songs every week that reinforce how God is in control and see nothing but people who appear to be super happy and full of joy that makes a very clear statement that if you know God you should be happy and whole.

But your real struggles continue, what do you do with that?

You can start to think what you’re doing wrong. You go to church, you sing the songs, participate in home church, read your bible, pray, you do everything your told you should to make God come and fix your pain, brokenness, doubt.

And a year, 2 years, 35 years later it’s all still there and you just start to wonder.

Maybe God doesn’t love me.

Maybe God isn’t real.

Maybe it’s all been a lie.

That’s why we have to be honest when we’re sharing our experience, good and bad.

We hide our doubt despite the fact that it’s part or humanity. It resonates with those who haven’t found God yet because everyone has it.

But we hide it making it seem like we are different, better than they are. Fixed and whole.

We are different but different because we have seen our brokenness and said God I need you. It’s our honest response to brokenness that is different not the experience of having it.

And it’s that response, Jesus that we need to share.

I don’t want to do that

This one ended up being more polarizing than I anticipated.

You could just see it in people’s faces when they heard what it was.

“Oh……that’s a neat idea, within reason.”

What if some knows?

What if someone takes advantage of me?

What if I don’t want to?

What if I can’t afford to?

Yup!

The idea this week is to choose a time block, the morning, 4pm-6pm, every day this week and say yes to every request that comes.

You can see why the within reason statement comes in now.

I’ve listed a bunch of what ifs that can run through your mind. But I think it ultimately boils down to one.

What if God wants me to do something I don’t want to do?

And now you know why I picked this activity.