Every once in a while, we get a glimpse, if we are fortunate, of the Unconditional Love which God, our Heavenly Parent, has for each of us. For the past several months, I have experienced just how conditioned God's love is in the mind of many. Again, I reference the study done by Baylor University in which more than 75% of respondents think of God as Distant, Critical or Authoritative. Though the preacher may speak of God's love, the context of His wrath, His place of eternal damnation and His Judgemental Nature tend to dilute any sense of that love or any desire to be close to that God. Who would want to be close to an earthly parent who was was distant, critical and authoritative in character and behavior? And so, Jesus asks some very simple questions: if a child would ask for bread, would a loving parent give a stone? Absolutely not! Jesus remarks how much greater is God's care and love for each of His children than even our earthly parents!
It is a simple question: is God's love unconditional? If it is then there are no strings attached, right? No preconditions for God's saving love to be experienced, right? Well, the traditional doctrine of the atonement is clearly a condition of God's favor.
To quote a senior pastor: "the principle under-girding blood atonement was based on the idea of a life for a life." But wait, didn't Jesus say: "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' (Ex 21:24, Lev 24:20, Deut 19:21) But I tell you not to resist an evil person...I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. (Matt 5:38-44). Not only does Jesus reject the idea of "a life for a life," but he is also not a literalist, taking every jot and tittle of Scripture as God's revealed word.
The doctrine of the atonement represents a presentation of God's conditional love, pure and simple. There will be remission of sins only "if" there is shedding of blood. To quote the senior pastor: "remember the key idea of atonement is one life for another. Blood has to be shed, because the life of all living beings is within the blood (Lev 17:14)."
Contemplative Prayer liberates once and for all from such puerile ideas of God's nature and character. In contemplative prayer, we are granted an experience which forever displaces any notions of the conditions which God places upon our experience of His Personal Presence or upon the experience of Salvation. I invite you to such an experience, freeing you from the bondage of fear, prejudice and condemnation which such ideas as the atonement place upon the soul. May you forever live in the freedom of the experiential realization of God's Unconditional Love!
See below for the understanding of how Contemplative Prayer actually works. Blessings, Gard