I've struggled with the notion that people who claim to worship a God whose very essence is love, can be some of the most hurtful, hateful, unloving people around. And that in so many cases, christians are not known for their love, but for their bigotry and fear and condemnation of others.
And I've wrestled with the reality that I've encountered many christians who seem to use the word love to describe behaviour which just isn't loving.
Like the board member at my ex-church who told me I'd been loved, and so I should just shut up and get over it.
I'd been bullied and then dismissed. I'd been told to submit or resign. I'd been removed from leadership. I'd been continually silenced. I'd suffered accusations based on lies. And I'd been treated like a pariah.
Yet here was this guy writing to me, "You. Have. Been. Loved." How could anyone possibly call what I'd been subjected to "love"?
It sure didn't feel like love to me.
But that's just a single example. It so doesn't stop there. Every day, both online and face to face, people are being judged, rejected, cold-shouldered, put down, shunned, bullied, and silenced. And all the while the perpetrators are claiming to love! In the name of their god no less!
And that's where it gets interesting - or at least that's where the light-bulb illuminated for me. Because it occurred to me that despite paying lip-service to the notion that God IS love, many christians obviously have a view of God that is anything but loving.
It seems that the god many worship is a god of anger and vengeance. One who only tolerates us because his own son stood between us and the bloodlust of his father. A god who demands that we work hard, and jump through hoops, and suffer just to avoid the inevitable judgement that is our due.
And if, deep down where people may not even admit it to themselves, God is seen in these terms, it's no wonder they would think that judging and pointing fingers and demanding people live in line with their own morality is what love looks like. That is, after all, what their god looks like.