Dear Aaron Rodgers. First off, I really hope you read this, because:
- A) I totally understand where you’re coming from, and
- B) What you seem to be rejecting isn’t God at all, it’s a fear-based social control mechanism that knows little of the nature of divinity and even less of the reason Jesus offers an invitation home.
I don’t blame you for saying “no” to the god you described when you said, “I don’t know how you can believe in a god who wants to condemn most of the planet…to a fiery hell. What type of loving, sensitive, omnipresent, omnipotent being wants to condemn most of his beautiful creation to a fiery hell at the end of all this?”
It appears that you have the wrong information, and the reason I’m addressing this in a public forum is that such misinformation is widespread. I for one would like to set the record straight.
The God I know and worship loves this world and desires to be in partnership with all of us; not to condemn but to facilitate redemption and healing – for all of creation (read Romans 8).
Listen, Aaron; as a football player I’m sure you’ve seen that guy holding up a sign that says, “John 3:16.” I’m here to say his sign should include verse 17 too: “God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
“Saved” – now there’s a word that’s thrown around a lot, even used to beat people over the head. What “saved” really means is to join in with God’s work, to participate in God’s initiatives of grace, mercy, love, light, blessing, and promise. To be “saved” means to get on board with what God is up to. And what God is up to is love.
As membership and attendance at traditional “mainline” churches has declined, fewer Americans are familiar with the truth about God. Instead of solid teaching, the general public gets its information from televangelists, prosperity preachers, scandals that hit the news, and the compromised political allegiances of the evangelical right.
Sometimes it’s hard to get to the truth. The way information is distributed today tends to highlight and amplify the extreme, the negative, and the sensational. This stuff about God wanting to condemn this beautiful planet to a fiery hell is nothing but fake news.
The good news – the authentic news – is that more and more people are beginning to pay attention to the truth. The church I attend here in Wake Forest is full with enthusiastic, gracious people who are embracing the fact that God’s love motivates them to share good news, to serve our neighbors, to love generously, and to invite people to live into the promise and the joy that is a restored relationship with God.
God has no interest in condemning you, Aaron. Jesus came to be God’s wide-open invitation, to show us the way. Our job is to encourage one another, and that means to give each other the courage to really live.
So, Aaron Rodgers, let me encourage you as you walk away from the wrong story about God. You can still come home. Because, as Jesus said on more than one occasion, “Neither do I condemn you.”
Peace – and I mean that in every way – DEREK