If you’ve read some of the posts here, you’d probably call me a heretic. This may be partially because I’m not always clear in my presentations – sometimes passion gets the better of me and I hurry to get ideas posted.
Here’s my deal: I believe that God is more about love than he is about rules. Sometimes I let that come across as an anything goes, do what you want, God wouldn’t send you to hell philosophy. I don’t know if that’s true or not. In fact it’s the not knowing that’s the key for me on this. I don’t believe that we CAN know how God will handle those people that don’t know “what would Jesus do.” I’m at odds (not necessarily AGAINST) “In vs Out” theology – the idea that some people are in, some people are out, and that we can use scripture to figure this out. It doesn’t pan out for me.
We have at least two responses to this “In vs Out” concept:
The first is commendable: pursuing the “truth” of the matter – delve into scripture, find the things that we should do and those that we shouldn’t do. The pursuit shows a deep level of love by those people that believe in God to find out more about him. Further, we assume this shows a great deal of love for others because we say we want to help them know God and get “in.” We use the Bible as a starting point, believing it is at least a mostly accurate recounting of history and fact about God. The church has come to call this pursuit “theology” and grants great privileges to those versed in it. Theologians have great respect for longing after the truth for the truth shall set us free.
But the fact that we have called it commendable does not mean that its findings are “truth.” in this case I’m thinking about truth as the way that God wanted things to be in both the world and how we relate to each other. The truth here reflects our role as Jesus followers. I’m not convinced that this is how we should be spending our time on this matter.
We’re a curious species and the pursuit of knowledge has become the modern representation of that curiosity. We assume, falsely, that there is nothing that we cannot “know.” We don’t even entertain the idea that there are somethings that we SHOULD NOT know. I argue that this very matter is something that we will not know and probably SHOULD NOT know.
Instead, it should be completely irrelevant.
The second response then is simply to realize the irrelevance of the question “Is this person ‘in’ or ‘out’?” It consistently leads to questions and debate about nit-picky issues that are of no relevance to Jesus. You are and will always be loved by God – there are no degrees to this love, no chances to level up. You simply are. And so, we need to simply love. Simply build relationships. Simply go to the short man’s house for tea.
What does it matter if this person is in, or out, or used to be in, or was out but thought about getting in later? How does it change how I act towards them. Yes, I want them to know God, but I don’t want them to know man made God – I want them to know all loving God. How do I do that? Simply by loving them myself – by simply being in a meaningful relationship with them. Nothing more. The rest – the guilt that’s associated with not helping someone get in, the thinking of people as projects, the endless pursuit of something we cannot and should not know – is nothing but a distraction in the periphery of what real life and love really is.
I hope that we can humble ourselves, realize that our role is not to be judge, jury, or excommunicator. Our role is to be lovers, and friends. To do justly. To love mercy. To walk Humbly with God.