What if God has always loved us unconditionally and our shame – from the knowledge of good and evil – is the only thing that ever separated us from him. What if sin is anything not-God in us, and we cannot survive the knowledge and shame of that disparity, so we turn away from him?
What if sin only angers him when we are hurting the ones he loves? What if sin only saddens him when it makes us ashamed and unable to look at him and walk with him?
What if he has been wooing humanity from the beginning, but we were incapable of encountering him without covering ourselves, hiding, running, or dying on the spot from shame. So he hid his face, and sent messengers to tell us we were loved. We didn’t get it. We contrived writings and religions to try to please him. He sent more messengers. We made more rules and better efforts to be more like him, to be good enough.
What if, to prove to us that our humanity is valued, he became human. What if he demonstrated to us exactly how a human can relate to Him and how He wants to be in relationship with all of us – as one, as a root and a vine and its branches, as a Father and child.
What if he voluntarily took upon himself all of our shame, all of our guilt, all of our not-God-ness, felt the anguish of it, the pain, the darkness. He felt what we all feel, the inability to look at God – “Father, why have you forsaken me?” He was in agony – not just physical but emotional and spiritual agony. And the shame, the pain, the darkness – ‘he became our sin’ – died. And then, He lived.
What if He proved to us once and for all that all of our sin, darkness, humanity, flesh… it cannot separate us from his love – we are exactly what he loves. God is love, and light. He cannot not love us.
What if love IS a feeling. What if God’s love for us is an affectionate, passionate, FEELING love – not an abstract, distant, punishing, manipulating love?
What if our reaction was to accept and revel in that love? To allow it to bring US to life? What if we could really, truly internalize that unconditional, affectionate, delighted love?
Would we then devote ourselves to more writings, more words, more rules? Would we try to manipulate others into following our rules and worshipping the correct writings? Would we need to pursue substances, people, activities, admiration, money, in order to fill that empty space of not-good-enough, not-adored, not-delightful? Would we need to analyze and re-analyze and try to live other peoples’ experiences of God?
Can we even accept that kind of love and grace? Where we know we are human but don’t feel bad about it – because God doesn’t feel bad about it? Where it doesn’t matter where we are born, or how we look, or how smart we are, or how much money we have, or what books we read, or what doctrines we believe, or what people we live with, or what meetings we go to, or what rules we follow, or what happens to us, or… anything. We are just loved. And that love transforms us.