One of the most frequent descriptions we receive about the nature of God is that God is love. This is undeniably true and is attested to by Holy Scripture, especially the sacred writings attributed to St. John the Evangelist.
Unfortunately, this teaching has been so emphasized that it has caused a modern distortion in our concept of the Deity. People use this teaching to create a God Who accepts everything we do, even the bad. This modern idol gives no consequences for the evil actions of His children. Therefore, even the good that human beings do is not rewarded since it does not count as an accomplishment. We are left with an ineffectual god who is not interested in the true growth of his children. Our actions do not matter and hence our dignity is compromised. We are not really made in the image and likeness of God. Our decisions, good or bad, leave no eternal footprints.
Clearly, then, God has to be a God not only of love but of justice. When one hears the two qualities of God contrasted as such, one is tempted to see them in opposition, or at least in tension with one another. But seen in God’s purpose and in the dignity God bestows on us human beings, the Justice of God and His Love are complementary. He cannot love us if He does not hold us accountable for our actions and even our words and thoughts. Because of His great love for us, every decision we make has eternal consequences. We are important to God and our growth is ensured by God’s Justice. If we choose good in the midst of our tensions of life, we will be rewarded by God; and if we choose evil, we will be punished by God. This would have seemed to be a given in ages past, but today it strikes us as shocking. The punishment of the Almighty is the giving to us of what we choose to have. In the Scriptures it says, ‘I have set before you Life and Death. Choose Life’ (cf. Deut. 30:19). Yet many of us refuse to do that and follow our own way, seduced by the tempters that God allows to test us.
In all of this, one is reminded that we have before us the teaching of the Church in the Magisterium as well as the writings of the saints and sages all attesting to this truth. These are all aids to help us to come to our own acceptance of God’s will in a free decision; or our refusal to accept this.
Whatever our choice, God honors it by accepting our decision. If we refuse His divine invitation, it stands refused. This is what we call hell: to be without God forever. Where God is, there is love. To be without God is to live without being able to love nor to accept love. We are buried alive in our pride and sinfulness. The mercy of God was offered us and we declined it. This is the tragedy of damnation. It is part of the insanity of this way of thinking that we become proud of our choice: that we have been faithful to our ‘values’ and continue to refuse a God in which we have never believed.
Why doesn’t God force the souls who choose against Him to repent and accept His offer of love? Because God, in doing so, would not be respecting the free choice of His children to be against Him. They have had while on earth the benefits of the beauty of creation, the truth of the mind and the goodness of moral conduct but that was not enough to convince them and hence God honors their choice, as insane as it seems, with His acceptance and final ratification.
But, we, dear reader, are still here on this earth, not yet at our final judgement. This is the time of salvation. This is what John the Baptist heralded and what Jesus taught: God is love and even though He does not ‘need’ our love He desires it. To love God is our fulfillment and the meaning of our lives. It is shear insanity to refuse it. But, sadly, people do.
We can make a will-act right now and accept God’s offer to live according to His Holy Will for us. Then we can spend each day serving God no matter what our day is like and we can face our death with confidence and joy knowing what awaits us on the other side is our Just God who will be trustworthy and give us what we have asked for from Him: Life Eternal with Him who is Love and Who has loved us every moment of our existence with a love that is so great that even the best human love on earth: parent, spouse, child, friend is just a pale imitation of the vibrant, ardent, robust and unconditional love of God.