God as a divine Santa Claus seems to be alive and well in the minds of Christians today. A week or so ago, someone from a local church left a pamphlet on my door… this pamphlet warns me that my joy or sorrow for all eternity depends upon my answer to the question “am I saved?” For me, this is a message of fear and intimidation from an extremely limited God. This is not the God I know and, frankly, I don’t think I’d ever want to know this God.

As for what I believe… God is a God of Love and the “kingdom of God” is not about some afterlife but what we are making of this life here and now. Saved to me means I have a relationship with the Holy, I’m in touch with the Divine within me, and I’m trying to live a life of love as modeled by Jesus. It has nothing to do with what happens after I die.

Back to the pamphlet… it’s message: “you are a sinner”, “you are condemned to death”, “eternal separation from God in Hell”… this God is obviously checking his list of who’s naughty and who’s nice. If you’re one of the naughty ones… watch out! Is this a God anyone would really want to serve? A God who would burn in Hell billions of people (including good honorable people) just because they didn’t believe in Jesus? Why would I be interested in that God? But wait… the pamphlet says if I have doubts about this, just “do not trust your feelings”. I guess I’m just supposed to close my mind and blindly do what I’m told to do… no thinking, no feeling… don’t need any of that because this church has found all the answers for me.

Oh well, this message both amuses and saddens me. This is the face of Christianity that too many see. How do we better show them the God of Love and Hope that I see when I read the story of Jesus?