So here’s the thing. There are so many things in Bible interpretation that are ambiguous: Atonement, baptism, prayer, as well as the meaning of faith and works.
Even the Reformers couldn’t agree and they split over the issue of communion (The Lord’s Supper). Even Paul said he had to ‘work hard’ so as not to be disqualified from salvation. (1Cor. 9:27)
And the issue of eternal punishment is not clear. Is it annihilation or fires or worms or darkness or is there a possibility that somehow God will bring all his creation back to himself?
I know that many Christians believe that non-believers or disobedient people may be tortured in everlasting torment. But that is mostly from presumptions we make having been brought up in a certain way. Listen, Christian people are not even certain what happens to the people who have never heard of Christ. They say things like ‘well they are not the elect’ or ‘God will do the right thing’. And what about the Jews and little children who are not of accountable age? And what does accountable means? I believe we are manipulating God into a box where we have taken away God’s freedom.
Is the eternal destiny of humanity so clear that some people can be so certain as to who is in and who is out? Doesn’t God judge the intention of the heart? It seems so in the Sermon on the Mount. And do all our discernments about judgment make us judges ourselves?
And what about those men who crucified our Lord? Were they really forgiven? It all makes me dizzy. And then I know people who say that our little minds can’t understand how God works.
Well, I do. Amidst all the ambiguities of this faith one thing is Crystal Clear: God’s love for us. There is no doubt that God’s love is huge, beyond huge. When my mother use to tell her granddaughter that she loved her, her granddaughter would respond, “I love you more”. That’s what God says to us time and time again and especially from the cross. “I love you more.” And not for one moment do I think the love of God stops when our hearts stop beating. I’ve said before that everything I see now is through the lens of the Christ crucified for us.
We westerners (and you can check this out) have the propensity towards retribution and payback. Our idea of justice is that God will pay bad people back. It’s probably why I like Westerns so much. But God’s idea of justice is….well, look upon the cross. There we see God’s idea of justice for humanity. We see Jesus loving, suffering, forgiving and dying for love. Death cannot prevent that kind of love from getting through to God’s creation. Never mind Jesus preaching to the imprisoned souls, whatever that means. Just think that God’s love fills eternity, all of it, forever and ever. If God’s love can continue in the ‘saved’ person’s life then why can’t it do remedial work in the other’s lives? Who knows? There might be remedial work to be done in the ‘saved’ lives. And it will be out of God’s love, not vindication or retribution. Yeah, that’s what I believe.