7/21/13 Ingram 20
Where’s the love? A 20 year old named Ingram who grew up in a strict Jehovah’s Witness family explained why he had rejected not only his family’s beliefs, but any kind of belief in God at all: “I just don’t feel anything when it comes to God or religious faith. It doesn’t do anything for me, and I don’t want to just go through the motions.” I told him I appreciated his honesty, and went on to say “I think I might know why you might feel this way. You’ve been taught that God created Jesus as his highest angel, then sent him to die a horrible death on our behalf. Where’s the love in that? That would be like a man seeing his wife in danger, but then sending someone else to risk his life to save her rather than go himself! But if Jesus Christ really is God in the flesh, not a separate created being but having always been part of the Holy Trinity that Christians understand God to be, then He has truly demonstrated His love by taking our punishment for us on the cross.” I can usually tell when what something I’ve said catches a person’s interest and truly involves them in a longer conversation. For Ingram, it was when I talked about the chance to respond to God with love rather than religion. We went on to talk for nearly an hour, ending on the following note: “And the Holy Spirit, which Jehovah’s Witnesses also don’t believe in, gives us a new heart and new desires to respond with love in return, a love that wants to read his Word and obey what it says. It’s much, much more than empty religion and going through the motions. God wants for us to be in a living relationship with Him, not a dead religion.” Jehovah’s Witnesses say they don’t understand why a loving God would punish sinners in an eternal hell rather than just destroy them completely. I explained to Ingram that God loves justice, which requires an infinite consequence for our sins against an infinitely holy God, but that He also loves us, so much so that He was willing to take our punishment upon Himself in our place. There’s the love that believers in a “created Jesus” – such as Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses- are missing out on. And there’s the love that makes salvation a free gift that we aren’t required to add good works to, a love that I pray people like Ingram can truly know.