I can feel myself changing. Karen warned that reading If God Is Love might do that, but I didn’t really expect it to alter my thinking to this degree.
It took me a little while to warm up to the book, mainly because I had such a strong reaction to the theology presented in the first few chapters. It forced me to reassess and analyze my own beliefs – something that made me quite uncomfortable. After reading the first chapter one night before going to bed, I awoke around 3:30 a.m. with my mind in a whirl, unable to calm it until I had gotten up and written down some of my feelings.
I soon figured out that if I was going to dispute the author’s view of salvation and the afterlife, then I needed to have something to back up my own beliefs about those same subjects. That turned out to be a little more difficult than expected, and once I realized that, I was able to take the book at its worth and allow the amazing truths contained in it to penetrate my mind. There are so many sentences that I have highlighted, many that caused me to say “Wow!” as I read them.
This book drastically changed my view of Jesus. I have so much more respect for him as a person who enacted social change through his activism and lifestyle. Most denominations stress salvation as a way of avoiding hell, instead of the joys of being a Christian – becoming more like Christ and following his actions and way of thinking. Jesus was radical enough to make the religious establishment uncomfortable, political enough to make the government despise him, yet so full of truth and love that people still want to follow him 2000 years later.
This book has also changed my view of salvation or being “born again”. I was taught from early childhood that being saved was a life-changing event at a specific moment in time. I no longer believe that, but feel that salvation is a process of choosing to follow Christ and becoming like him. After all, if we truly believe in Christ and follow his teachings, we don’t need a specific time and place to point to as our moment of renewal; our entire lives should be in a constant process of cleansing and rebirth.
“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.” – The Usual Suspects
That’s the main thing that scares me about this book. The author constantly stresses the importance of following the teachings of Jesus, but only when those teachings apply to gracious behavior. He doesn’t mention the times that Jesus referred to Satan or eternal damnation for those who fail to repent. I don’t understand or enjoy a selective approach to the Bible (something that I’ve found in all branches of Christianity) and this way of thinking certainly doesn’t give me any comfort or faith that I will attain an afterlife in heaven.
Even if you don’t agree that all people will be saved or that Satan doesn’t exist, this book should be considered. That theology, while worthy of consideration, doesn’t have to be adopted in order for the reader to take away something important and powerful. You simply cannot walk away from this book without realizing that we all need to change the way we interact with others and how we treat those who are less fortunate.
I hope that I am able to implement some of the important lessons that I’ve learned from this book. I want to pray more. I want to start reading the Bible more. I don’t want to become one of those scary Bible-thumpers, but I do want my life to be an example that others might want to follow. I want to become more like Christ. I want to be a joyful person that people are drawn to because they want to know where my happiness stems from. I want to help those who have less than me.
I guess if I could sum up how this book has changed me in one sentence it might be something like this: I want to become a better person. Any book that causes that kind of sentiment must be getting something right!