On the way to the farmer's market last week, Mom and I passed opposing factions demonstrating on opposite sides of a street in front of a Bible college. On one side stood a group of people waving signs like "God Hates Jews." These people were screaming and gesturing wildly.
On the other stood a group of people whose signs said things like "God Is Love." These people were standing quietly, firmly.
Dad and I had a long talk about God and heaven this weekend. He's worried about whether he's a sheep or a goat. Frankly, this makes me boiling mad. To imagine that you are or are not acceptable because you were or were not circumcised or were or were not raised in a particular faith or did or did not have water sprinkled on your head as an infant--any of it, all of it strikes me as well beyond absurd. It pains me that lessons from his childhood haunt Dad now.
After a lot of discussion, I finally told him this: Anything that creates an "us vs. them" scenario is from humans, not from God. We are all part of God's family, and God accepts and loves us all. As humans, we choose actions or attitudes that take us closer or further from God, closer or further from peace and love. But, as Carl Jung believed (quoting Desiderius Erasmus), "Bidden or unbidden, God is present."
There is no reason to scream or carry on. We can stand quietly in the sure and certain knowledge that God is love. For all of us. For each of us. Doesn't really matter whether we're sheep or goats: All are acceptable in God's sight.
Many paths. One God.