God Loves...

We go to a Sunday school class at our church. Over a year ago we switched from one that had a lot of just slightly older than us couples that didn't include much Bible in the lessons to a class with mostly decades-older than us couples who directly study Scripture. Both classes are fine, but I am pretty sure I have more to gripe about with this one, although I'm staying the course for now.

As far as I can tell everyone else in the class is very right-leaning and conservative. That's cool, and I like being exposed to ideas different than mine. But some things are hard to swallow, especially when we completely disagree on Scripture interpretation. I also don't like their parenting advice (lots of spanking, for example) or the majority opinions on racism and justice (but that's another post). Pretty much every week there's something I don't agree with - minor or major. It makes good conversation fodder for Shawn and me, so I guess that's something.

A couple months ago there was an incident that left me in tears and obsessing through the week. I didn't write about it at the time because it was raw (and I wasn't really writing/it was right around the time of the Maker Faire). I'm not sure if dredging it back up now is a smart idea. But hey, it's NaBloPoMo, and I gotta write something! (It also puts into perspective my current rage/annoyance about the missed sermon video, being patronized by others and feeling my church volunteer work is really not valued ... but it doesn't eliminate that fury, unfortunately!)

We are studying the Bible using N.T. Wright's New Testament for Everyone (affiliate link). We were in Matthew 5, and one of the questions was something like "How do you reconcile and make friends?" I wrote and said something about remembering that the person I'm reconciling with is loved by God too. I was mainly thinking about being reconciled with others in the class when they say things that are so totally off the wall to me.

I got severely smacked down because the teacher and others in the class vehemently said God does NOT in fact love everyone. And it turned into this whole lecture of Satan still at work (as if I don't believe in evil because I believe God's love is stronger), and I got so upset I started to cry. It was really embarrassing.

Someone even said, "What good would it be to be a Christian if everyone were blessed the same and all were going to heaven?" I almost blew my top but didn't -- since I was already about to weep openly.

I know they're thinking of ISIS and "the other" people, but it just upset me beyond measure to think they're saying God does not love all of his creation. God's love is limitless, and I don't know how it works.

But they were acting like they do know for sure, even though the teacher said "I don't get to decide who is, it's not up to me to judge. That's above my pay grade." While obviously acting like he DOES know and gets to judge.

It was just ugly and I ran out crying after the closing prayer even though they wanted to keep talking about it.

The teacher emailed, apologizing for making me cry but not really for the main point. It took me more than a week to read the email and then reply, and only then after I'd talked to our pastor about it. I think eventually the teacher agreed with me that God does love people, even those who reject him. I think his vehemence might have been a semantics/vocabulary issue. (And points to a lack of respect for opposing view points, I think.)

In his email he tried to use the Prodigal Son parable to make his point -- saying that if the younger son had stayed away instead of coming back he would have always remained separated from his father. Yeah, duh. But that doesn't change that the father still loved him and wanted him to come back (making my point).

The conversation with our pastor was helpful, and he recommended some books and was nice about it. I didn't skip any classes, even though I really wanted to. I have a flair for the dramatic at times. I also came across this blog post, People We Shouldn't Love, the same week of this blow up. Its timing was providential, as it was making the points I couldn't articulate.

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