Excerpted from Leaving and Finding Jesus / Chapter Seven: Retribution
While we could discuss the afterlife endlessly, “I don’t know” is the only empirically true answer. As to the answer a relational theologian would give, I think anything less than “I sure hope so” would be anti-Christ. I don’t write that with condemnation, but as a challenge to the hearts and minds of friends of Jesus—that we might be set free!
As for me, “Yes, I sure hope so” is my answer. I’ve grown convinced that answer best aligns my heart with the heart Jesus demonstrated on the cross when, hanging between heaven and earth, He said, “Father, forgive them.”
* * *
“Them” is everyone.
There is no exclusion, no, “Father, forgive them….”
if they stop sinning
if they repent
if they receive Me
if they say a sinner’s prayer
if they believe in My name
if they love Me
if they love one another
if they obey My commandments
if they are faithful
if they read Scripture
if they believe in eternal conscious torment
Just, “Father, forgive them.”
All of them.
“For they know not what they do….” Their eyes are unhealthy, and how great is their darkness…
On that cross, God was in Christ reconciling “the world to Himself,” not counting our if’s against us. “The world” includes all the peoples.
There were no omissions, no “The world except everyone in Timbuctoo, El Dorado, and The Simpsons who live at 742 Evergreen Terrace in Springfield, Oregon.
Nope—just “the world.” All of it!
Then, Jesus, on a cross, proclaimed, “It is finished.”
* * *
“Finished” means “ended or completed.” I looked it up. Case closed, settled, resolved. No one was overlooked by Christ at the cross—not even Judas. Paul told us, “…in Adam, all die, so in Christ, all will be made alive.”
“All” means, “everyone.” I looked it up.
It’s crazy, but most Christians put their faith in the first part of that verse, “In Adam, all die,” but seem to completely ignore the second half and the whole point, “so in Christ all will be made alive.”
What does that ultimately mean? I don’t know, but I bet it’s measurelessly good, and I’m convinced that anything less than positioning our hearts in the hope that all means “everyone.” is not just anti-Christ; it places us firmly on the “What am I still lacking?” road, cut off from experiencing eternal life in the ever-present now. It positions us as self-righteous malcontents slaving on the wrong side of a three-foot concrete median, often in opposition to our Father’s reconciling heart…