Thursday, May 31, 2012
Sometimes I think that God the Father sort of bears with us because of Jesus. And I don't think I'm alone in this thinking. Have you ever heard someone say, "Yeah, the God of the Old Testament is vengeful and wrathful, that's why I'm so glad for Jesus"? (I heard it on the radio the other day.)
I just don't get the mystery of Jesus' union with his father. But as I begin to suspect this union of purpose, justice and love, verses like the above pop out at me with renewed meaning. Yes, these verses attest to God's unswerving purpose to fully love us in Jesus Christ!
As I'm typing this, I'm looking out of the window at my office and thinking, "Come on, you really believe this stuff. Just look out there. Look at the grass, and the trees birds and cars, all of which are God's and in all the immensity of this his creation, he loves you?!" "Well yes, it's right here in the book in front of me."
Some people think that we shouldn't begin a gospel presentation with the words "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." They draw from passages like "Jacob I loved and Esau I hated." And I guess they might be right in a sense, that God seems to choose whom he sets his love upon. But then I think they may be horribly wrong.
Because of the lavish grace of God, God does not give us the right to discern the borders of his love. And he expresses in a few places that Christ died for the whole world, and that his desire is that the whole world would come to him. Is it the whole world of his elect? Perhaps. But is it truly the whole world? Maybe.
I've been challenged recently to explain how God treats those who have never heard of him. Do they go to hell? Do they get a mystical chance to know him and choose him on earth or perhaps even in heaven?
My hunch is that God's love is so staggeringly big that when we finally see it, these sorts of questions will loose some of their existential import. I'm not saying we won't care for the lost, but actually the opposite, our hearts will burn with God's heart that goes to the deepest depths and beyond for the wicked. And yes, we too are the wicked (not only those out there who have never heard), who God chose to die and suffer full wrath for in Jesus.
Some questions perhaps aren't supposed to have logical, air-tight answers, but I know that in addressing the case of those who have never heard of God, there are two positions from which to question. One is the position that suspects God's love as a small thing. The other is the one we gather from scripture that attests to God's love as a big thing - radical mercy, grace and favor that does indeed go out to the whole world (however he means it) in the message of the cross.
One is a position of skepticism, anger and dis-trust. The other is a position of concern, questioning and desire that God be as good as the cross. And then there's the whole spectrum of people in between these positions.
I wish I knew what God's plan was for those who don't hear the gospel, but I know that a God who created such a wild and lovely demonstration of his love through the cross, is a God who will have a good answer.
"Whosoever will may come." - Jesus