My friend paused, searching for clarification. “Does that mean God is a hypocrite?”
I, too, hesitated, not wanting to agree too hastily with the rather complicated and potentially inflammatory statement. Sometimes, though, the truth is simple. “Yes,” I said. “I think God is a hypocrite.”
And because of this truth, my life has been saved.
This conversation took place in the exact manner that all of the best conversations do: late at night, between friends, about a topic that everyone is too busy or too bashful to discuss in the light of day. It was around 1:00am. My fellow of companions, who were quite numerous at the beginning of the evening, had headed to bed, and I was anxious to follow. I crossed the room to bid farewell to my two friends who still remained chatting on the dormitory sofas.
One, a Christian. The other, a Muslim.
As I approached, I quickly sensed the pair was engaged in a heavy conversation. “Allah” and “God” were used interchangeably by the conversationalists, each trying to strike a balance between referring to The Deity in their own, familiar manner while still respecting the traditions of the other. The topic was sin. How can Allah love us, if Allah hates sin? In so doing, is God contradicting himself? I continued my approach, intentionally forgoing my intentions of obtaining some much needed sleep.
I sat listening to the conversation for several minutes, admiring the amount of respect my two friends, who could not have been from more different backgrounds, had for each other. One, raised to believe that there was nothing that he could do to earn his way to heaven, the other, taught to pursue virtue in order that she may one day be judged favorably. Their different religious traditions and characterizations of The Deity were compatible in many ways, but the conversation had reached an impasse in regard to God’s judgement of sin and the manner in which His followers should address it. Both agreed God was love, but God hates sin. Can He, then, really love sinners? Wouldn’t their wrongs “get in the way?”
A prayer my Dad taught me as a child began running through my head. “Thank you, Jesus, that you love me and accept me just the way that I am, right now.” My God is perfectly just and perfectly merciful. Just, in that He demands payment for my sins; merciful, in that He has excused my debt because of His Son’s sacrifice. My whole existence is contingent on the truth of this paradox. If God did not love me and accept me broken, just as I am, and broken, just as I will be even after a lifetime of pursing virtue, my life would be lost.
I interjected to share this thought. An Islamic characterization of a Deity of absolute justice, and a Christian characterization of One who is nothing but mercy and love, coexist in Jesus.
And so I answered my friend’s question. “Yes,” I said, “I think that God is a hypocrite.”
In the most beautiful, merciful way, God is a hypocrite, giving us freely salvation that we will ever deserve.