In case you’re wondering, from time to time you may see what I’m calling a “Spontaneous Blog Post…” To take away any confusion, I already have my blog posts scheduled for the next couple of years, but from time to time, I may feel the need to post something that’s currently on my mind. This is one of those times.
God, Punishment, and Free Will
One of the most important things Jesus did during his life was help to change the perceptions people had about God’s nature. Rather than being vindictive and punishing, Jesus presented God as overflowing with love, understanding, and forgiveness. I believe that spirituality and religion, for the most part, still have a long way to go to in transforming their image of God’s nature. Far too many people continue to hold on to and preach an image of a vindictive, punishing God.
Think about it this way: we all have free will, right? What kind of just god would give us free will and then punish us for using it? If you had a child and told them that they were free to choose a good, healthy meal for supper, or that they could choose to eat ice cream, would it then be fair to punish them for choosing ice cream? And if the child gets a stomach ache from eating ice cream for supper, isn’t that just a natural consequence? It’s its own form of punishment, is it not?
I believe that it is the same way with us and free will. I don’t believe that God punishes us for using our free will; but if we choose to live in selfish or ungodly ways, the results are usually negative, or cause us unhappiness or separation. They are simply the natural consequences of our choices, just as choosing to live in Godly ways brings us happiness, peace, and fellowship with God and those around us.
I’m asking that you really examine your understanding of God. Any just god would have to give each person free will; if not, then we would be slaves, and true love would never make a slave of anyone. For love to be true and perfect, freedom is the only way.
An understanding god would know that we can be very selfish and weak at times, and that this usually stems from some form of ignorance. A patient and understanding god would let us learn from our mistakes, not punish or torture us, knowing that the natural, negative consequences of our actions is punishment enough. Anyways, God also gave us souls that live for eternity, so we will all continue to grow into love and into God, no matter how long it takes.
I’d also like to add this: it’s very easy to let other people do our thinking for us. Whether it’s our parents, religion, or society, we often accept whatever people tell us, regardless of our own feelings on the subject, and without much investigation into the matter. God gave us all individual minds so that we can think for ourselves. It is not a sin to question your beliefs. Jesus obviously questioned the religious beliefs of his day, and spoke out about what he thought were misrepresentations of God’s nature.
Understand that it is built into many of the power structures in our religions and society to make us feel bad about questioning authority; some will even preach that it is offensive to God. This is designed to protect those who are in power from anyone questioning their authority. See this for what it is, and never be afraid to think for yourself.
So what do you believe about God’s nature? In my experience, God is all love, all mercy, all grace. God’s nature is one of compassion, understanding, empathy, love, and forgiveness—and all is unconditional. This is the Good News that Jesus was willing to die for in opposition to the established religion of his day. This is the Good News that isn’t talked about nearly enough, and has the power to change people’s hearts and minds. It has the power, in fact, to change the world.
Believe this Good News.