God’s Love and Eternal Punishment….Some Thoughts
I heard a man say that to be punished for eternity doesn’t really sound like love. Eternity is a pretty dang long time, (forever in fact) and he asked about someone who is a good person, by normal human standards, but is not saved; how is that really loving, the kind of love that comes from the true source of love, God? Of course there are proponents that think and feel that the only way to salvation is through Christ is not fair. And to them I reply what has been said before. God created this universe and He runs it. If you don’t like it, then you can run your own universe one day when you get one.
But what this man said indeed troubled me. If He is so loving and forgiving then why eternity? I feel that the search for truth should never allow us to shy away from difficult questions and hard answers. I did not have an answer at the time but I do now. If we look at the Bible, Isaiah 6:5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” He came into God’s presence and was struck by the uncleanness of his lips, and he knew right away that it meant death. I don’t know about all of you but my mouth and the words that it has spoke, pale in comparison to my deeds and actions. If he was to die for merely unclean lips then there is something to be said there.
Of course people automatically think that that is not fair. But again keep in mind that we do not run this universe and we don’t decide what is fair. Though we sure do try. Our God is so Holy, so Righteous, so Loving, He is SO far above us and pure and good that simply a pair of lips that are not clean, in His presence deserves and warrants death. This is not something we can wrap our heads around. Oh we can know it. But we cannot know it experientially until that day comes when every knee will bow. This can be observed with an honest inspection of emotions and people and how guilt works.
As far as is it loving to do that. In a way I feel like I should not have to defend God or His word. Take for example a scenario. Would you as an honest reader, praise a judge for letting a guilty child molester go after doing obscene and utterly detestable things to your child? Would you consider a jury moral and good if they did not hold a murder accountable? If there is no justice there is no love. Now people often times confuse the two as it is easy to do. But do not let yourself follow a double standard of forgive me but hold my enemy accountable.
This happens all too often I am afraid. Mankind likes to think that he sets the standard. In fact this is evident by some of the justifying that we do. How many times have you looked around at other people and thought, well I’m not as bad as them? Or something along those lines. I know I sure have done it. But the standard is not other men, but God alone.
If love is the ultimate virtue, then how does an unjust judge be considered loving? There is a connection between justice and love. Justice with love is nothing but law and rule, and is depicted by the antagonist in Les Miserables. Love without justice is evil. It would have no right and wrong and no moral code. They are inseparable. Yet we try to separate them as we see fit. If we want to not pay up for our wrong, then we demand love and forgiveness, but if someone has wronged us, we have a tendency to want justice or revenge. I believe that those who have trouble accepting that God would be so loving and yet punish people for eternity, are those that have trouble seeing the pure righteousness of our Lord and feel the real weight of their sin and iniquity. Love is good as is justice, they are inextricably combined, and if we can understand this, our next obstacle is understanding and seeing that God is so perfect that well fall short.
Of course the good news is that we can be forgiven, His mercy and grace is just as great. So take to heart, though there are things that our beyond our intellectual grasp, we can know for certain that God is perfectly loving, in spite of our views. All we have to do is ask forgiveness, repent, and then follow Christ.