It’s a good question isn’t it? It’s all God has ever wanted. We see that in Exodus 19 when he’s making the covenant with Israel and he says “I’ll be your God and you be my people.” The problem is we don’t like letting God be God.
Oh, sure we do, sometimes! You know, when we talk about love, grace, mercy, and justice we can wrap our heads around a God that is all of those things. But what about the more difficult passages of the Bible that cause a lot of doubt and uncertainty? I just read Francis Chan’s book called “Erasing Hell.” He wrote it in response to another book by Rob Bell called “Love Wins.” In “Love Wins” Bell argues that amongst Christianity there are different beliefs and views about who is going to heaven and hell and he makes the case and seems to promote a view that in the end all will go to heaven. That God’s love will eventually win and even if people don’t confess Him as God in this world, they will get to in the next one, or the one after that, or the one after that, and so on. This is called Christian Universalism. Chan writes against this and does a good job of being honest with what the Bible is trying to tell us.
Chan, like myself, want to believe what Rob Bell says in his book. It makes rational sense that a God of love, grace, and mercy would eventually save all people. It’s what he wants, after all, right? Isn’t that what the Bible says? “That God desires all people to be saved.” I would love to say that all people would be saved. Why? Because that’s what makes sense to me about God and how I understand love.
But the Bible is pretty clear that some will be thrown into the fiery (which is probably symbolic) pits of Hell while others will be with Him in heaven. Some in, some out. Are you okay with that? Can/Could you believe in a God that says this?
I am convicted that many times as a pastor, I pick and choose what seems comfortable to me about God. So I pick things like God’s love, his grace, his forgiveness, his mercy all the time. I fail to speak a lot about his justice, his wrath, his anger, etc. because I’m uncomfortable with those things. But, at the end of the day, I have to trust that God knows best. That he’s got a better plan figured out than I do.
Chan goes through different sections of the Bible and says, “I wouldn’t do that.” Like the flood in Genesis…why destroy everyone not just by killing them but drowning them. Or in Exodus when Moses comes down from the mountain and the Israelites are down below worshipping a golden calf. God commanded the Levites to run through the camp and slaughter their brothers and friends and neighbors. 3000 people died that day, and the Levites were blessed for their obedience, Chan says. And then years later God commanded the Israelites to slaughter all the inhabitants of Canaan…men, women, and children…every single one of them. He told Ezekiel to lie on his right side for 390 days, to lie on his left for 40 days, to cook food over human dung, to hold himself back from mourning over his wife’s death after God takes her, and he preaches sermons that are laced with sexually explicit rhetoric…I wouldn’t have done any of those things mentioned above! This is a tough paragraph to read through, let alone, explain.
Which is really the problem isn’t it? That we try to explain everything we can about God when we forget to remember that He is the potter and we are the clay. We have no right to come before Him and tell him how things ought to be and how he ought to act. We have to take our God, the full God, even the God we can’t explain and just let Him be the God that He is. He doesn’t need to fit into our tiny categories and boxes…his ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55) and we have no right to find fault with our God (see Job, especially chapter 40:1-8).
So the question is: Can you really let God be God in all things? Have you been trying to explain Him away or picking/choosing certain parts to believe at the expense of others? If so, repent and ask for forgiveness today. Because there is one other thing that God did that I would never do: He came up with a solution to fix the relationship between Him and us by sending His own Son of all people! I would never do that. He sent His Son Jesus to die on a cross for us and suffer a brutal death so that through His defeat of death and by His resurrection we would all receive a gift we can’t explain or deserve: GRACE! Sometimes it’s good that we have a God that we can’t explain or doesn’t do what we would do, huh?