For the longest time, my Christian faith has been in the God who loves the world but, as God, has to decide on who gets into heaven and who is damned forever. It just made sense that in a JUST world the good and bad, the faithful and unfaithful end up in different eternal places. For the longest time I was a Calvinist believing that even before creation God had decided who was in and who was out.
But no more. In the last few years I have discovered that God so loves that God wants to restore his whole creation back to himself. It happened this way: first I read passages like Colossians 1:15-20
15 He (Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (ESV translation)
Notice first of all that Christ holds the creation together and then watch this; through Christ God is reconciling all things, all things to himself, making peace with all creation through the sacrifice of Christ. That’s some powerful everlasting and far reaching love. That’s the relentless love of God, God who will not rest until all his beloved creation is restored.
Then I read in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus tells us to love our enemies and I began to think, ‘why would Jesus tell us to love OUR enemies when God sends HIS enemies to hell?’ It didn’t make sense.
Then I came across 2Corinthians 5:19
19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (NIV)
hrough Christ who fought and forgave sin, God is bringing this whole creation back to himself. Reconciling, loving, and forgiving- just like in the story of the Prodigal Son.
Now I realize that this truth, this idea may make some people uncomfortable because of the way we were brought up. But in these next blog posts I want to share with you why this truth is so freeing, so God honoring, so Christ centered, and so Biblically accurate that it is almost impossible to ignore. And it was the truth of the Christian faith for the first 500 years and now is become once again so prevalent within the Christian community.
I will be suggesting many scriptures to read on this subject that is called Evangelical Universalism or Christian Universalism meaning that Christ is the atonement for our sins, not just we who believe but for the sins of the whole world. There is a need to interpret scripture and read the ones in supposed contradiction to the Universalistic ones. There is also the need to understand just what God’s judgment is all about. We will be surprised by what Jesus says and what Paul, who was a Universalist himself, writes about what God is up to.
I welcome your thoughts on this subject, your opposing viewpoints, your questions and your prayers as we open ourselves to what I perceive as the truest meaning of Grace.