What if believers weren't taught to fear God, but to welcome Him? What would that God (and the resulting world) look like?
I decided to consider the existence of a loving, omnipotent deity of my understanding Who was different than the Great Intimidator of Catholic upbringing. I soul searched for the God Who didn't believe in faulting me for Adam's Original Sin or feel a need to threaten me with Hell or a host of other things I believe only impede spiritual growth. I listened carefully for the voice within me, which I believe is the God voice that is in all of us, for divine direction.
Here are some of the things I came to believe about my God (in no particular higher order):
God is NICE. He is 100 percent love, devoid of hate. My God doesn't have a Hell in the hereafter, waiting for sinners. The threat of eternal torment, I'm guessing, was a human creation designed to keep the rest of us in line. God isn't a believer in "sin," either. As humans, we are hardwired to make mistakes and misguided on purposes. Our missteps give us opportunities to lean on a loving God for guidance and comfort. It's only when we fear less that we can become more open to making amends and granting forgiveness.
God doesn't want us to feel threatened by Him. Fear of harm is a nasty motivator. The Big Guy would rather have us do good things because we want to honor Him, ourselves and the world around us, not because we think He'll throw you into everlasting fire. The path to God isn't lined with hazards we must navigate to save our very souls. I believe God is constantly rolling out the welcome mat for every one of us every second of our lives.
God isn't a control freak. He gave us Free Will so we could learn from the success and failures of our lives. He doesn't like the boundary-less among us who try to control others in His name, especially arrogance laden political and religious leaders who try to tell others what they can do with their bodies and in their private lives. God gave us skin so that we'd know where our responsibility ends and someone else's begins.
God loves everyone. He loves gays and straights and pro-choicers and pro-lifers and gluttons and addicts and goody-goodies and fitness freaks and geeks and jocks and stoners and everyone else equally from every walk of life and every religious and spiritual belief or lack thereof. He even loves the prejudiced among us who waste His time by hating other humans in hopes of gaining some level of superiority.
God doesn't get angry, or hold grudges. He knows all, but doesn't hold onto negative thoughts or feelings for an instant, let alone eternity. He'd rather see us learn from our circumstances, and move forward. Grudges are man-made, and are useless in our quest to become more like The Big Guy.
God wants us to find peace, and be happy. The more we welcome God, the more we are aware of His presences in our lives, the happier we will become. We will find solace, regardless of what is happening in the world around us. Peace isn't defined by how we feel when everything is wonderful. Peace is the calm we feel when the stuff is hitting the fan. The closer we are to the God that is in us, the happier and more peace-filled we become.
God doesn't like people who act like they are closer to Him than the rest of us. "God told me" or "God sent me" or "God gives me the power to do this to you" does NOT please God. He was the one Who made us equal in His eyes in the first place. No one has the inside track to Him, we all do. When we claim one religion to be better than another, one religious point of view superior, we are doing our will's work, not His.
God is the only one wearing a watch that matters. Things happen on God's time, no matter how much we try to force our own controlling agendas. He likes it when we except His time frame rather than try to force His hand.
God doesn't keep a score. He's not in Heaven, writing up every bad deed or every good one for some final tally that will determine your position at the Pearly Gates. This life is not one big test. It is a series of moments, replete with gifts and challenges, that we are meant to live through together.
God isn't relaxing in Heaven, He's everywhere. Got isn't above us, He is in us and surrounds us. Love is what we feel when the God that is in us touches the God that is in another. If you take time every day to look, you'll find him in all sorts of place.
God is a huge fan of kindness, compassion and generosity. He came up with the whole "Random Acts of Kindness" idea to get us moving in the right direction. The anti-God behaviors -- manipulation, thirst for power and greed, hate, violence, etc., are not where He'd like us to live. God is a big fan of Spiritual Inclusionsim. He made all of us, and wants all of us to remember that.
God never leaves us. Even at the time when we die and cross over to the next chapter of our lives, we are not alone. And, try as we might at times, we can never leave Him.
I believe God lives in our human-to-human connections. The God that is in us is the love that feeds us.
Yes, I'm certain, God is Nice.
Sarah O'Leary is an author, speaker, humorist, seriousist and dedicated believer in Spiritual Inclusionism. She can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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