One thing that caught my ear recently, in conversation with other pastors, and in listening to great people teach on topics of Bible and Theology, has been a response to Universalism.
There is a group of people who believe that since God's grace is offered to all, and God is all-powerful/irresistible, combined with the fact that Jesus Christ has been to hell and back, etc....many different reasons. Whatever the reason, there are some who believe that in the end, all will be "saved", no matter what their beliefs, and no matter who they were in this life/world.
Usually bringing up this belief, is followed by a (well intentioned most likely) "I'd like to believe that." No doubt the person is thinking of people they've known and loved, who either have passed on or will pass on someday (we all will) without knowing Jesus Christ as savior. Yes, we would all love to have everyone around, during and after God's completion of what He has in store for us...to enjoy it together forever.
But part of me isn't sure about saying "I'd like to believe that" to Universalism. And this coming from a guy who is a pretty big fan of being gracious, and God's redemption/grace being a HUGE force in the whole "eternity" issue. I think sometimes about all the things that would change, if that was the kind of God we served....I won't bore you with what's probably really horrible theological daydreaming - but lets just say I find comfort in how God has revealed his love/plan for us.
But I too, am tempted to say "I'd like to believe that" when I hear of people who think that even someone who builds their entire existence against God, in the end, will be overwhelmed by God's redeeming love/grace and ushered into His Kingdom. But I think such thoughts can be hurtful to our appreciation of how God has created us/creation, and gives us (however small) a place to divert energy from loving others (even difficult ones) TOWARDS Christ and His design/desire for us ALL.
As hard as it is to realize/admit/acknowledge/accept - there is something loving about allowing someone who desires nothing to do with God - to have what they desire.
In any case...may we continue to reach the entire world, and all in it, with the message that God is calling all people toward His Kingdom, and offering redemption in Jesus Christ - even/especially to us who realize our need for something other than ourselves to be anything good in this life...
Church For The Unwelcomed
5 weeks ago