I guess I’m going out on a limb and doing something slightly controversial here. I’m a writer, and normally I talk about writing, or books, or Sherlock (because who can resist?). But today I’m going to talk about something a little more personal to me, and that’s my beliefs.
In a YouTube video I took my few subscribers on a tour of my room and one commenter expressed surprise about the number of Christian books I had, as they hadn’t known that I was a Christian. It’s not a secret, but at this stage in my life it’s not the first thing I’ll tell you about myself. I think because I just have too many questions and because there is too much else which ‘defines’ me, so it’s not usually necessary.
I am not in a secure place about my faith. I’ll start with that. I am not in a secure place because a few years ago, when I was about twelve, I started to ask the tricky questions. No one has yet given me a satisfactory answer to them, so I’m still looking for them. But however many doubts I may have, the idea of this world existing if there isn’t a God is actually harder for me to get my head around, and so every time, I end up bouncing back to what I believed before.
The main question I’ve got is if God really loves everybody, where does hell fit into that? I can’t reconcile myself to the idea of an all-loving God who would do that. I just can’t.
Some people say that hell is just separation from God and people who hate God and faith and everything would be happier there. Other people say that as the only way is through Jesus, a lot of people aren’t going to get to heaven. And other people (known as universalists, I believe), say that God forgives everybody in the end.
There’s a line in the Bible where it says that “God is love.” It’s not saying that God is made of love or that love can exist separately from God. It literally says that God is love. They are one and the same.
There’s another line, that I can’t quote accurately, but which says something along the lines of, “Whoever knows love, knows God.”
There’s a lyric from a song in Les Miserables that says “To love another person is to see the face of God.” They got that idea from somewhere – and that somewhere is likely to be the verses I’ve quoted above.
God is love. People talk about the whole, “I never knew you, get away from me,” thing at Judgement Day. Some have analysed the ‘never’ – if you were Christian as a kid but lost your way, would it still ‘count’? – and others hunt for meaning in the context to see if it was literal. For me, though, the word that stands out is ‘knew’.
Not, “You never believed in me,” but “I didn’t know you.”
But if whoever knows love knows God, then surely the only people who don’t know him are those who have never loved in their lives?
In the youth group at church a few weeks ago we were discussing this issue, of whether or not some people went to hell and stuff, and whether everything could be forgiven, and this verse cropped up. And we were talking about whether or not people who had a limited ability to understand the message as it’s taught in churches – people with special needs, small children – would go to heaven when they died.
I think the general consensus we came to was the idea that those who responded to the message they were capable of understanding – as far as they were capable of understanding it – would be saved. And then we talked about love. Anybody can recognise love. Babies recognise love. They don’t necessarily understand it, but they crave it. Everyone is capable of understanding love and kindness and all that stuff.
Is that the beginning of them understanding God? Because if he is love, then they’ve known him since the day they were born.
I guess this is a pretty controversial viewpoint among Christians. I’m no theologian. I’m just saying what makes sense to me in my head. This is how I understand it. If people love selflessly then they are seeing God’s love inside themselves and they know him and that’s what matters, isn’t it?
I’m not suggesting that you need to agree with me. I’m pretty sure most people don’t. For a start, a lot of my readers here probably don’t even believe in God. I’ve therefore put you through unnecessarily theological ramblings, far too early in the morning, and you’re probably sitting here thinking, “Okay, Miriam, go back to the writing blogs. This isn’t meant to be a religious debate.”
Just for the record, I hate the word ‘religious’. It sounds boring and traditional and full of rules and since I believe that Jesus was the opposite of that – he was a bit of a rebel, and got himself killed for it – I think it’s a stupid word. But whatever.
Anyway, here’s my viewpoint. All you need is love. What do you think?