How big is your box?

Talking with a student the other day, we started on the subject of who should go to Hell. Let's just say we had very different opinions.

Actually, let's say a little more than that. My student believes that, even should someone reach him with the Gospel of Christ, Osama bin Laden categorically deserves damnation.

The dangers I pointed out in his thinking (thank you to the Spirit for these, since I'm positive I hadn't thought about this myself) are twofold:

All deeds aside, (not to excuse them but because the argument goes a different direction) Osama is more a symbol today than an actual man, and beginning to think a certain way about him will subtly begin, in our fallen and sinful human minds, to stamp everyone else associated with the symbol of the leader the same way, and thus begin to call for all the leader's followers to wind up in Hell as well.

This leads to the second problem: we cannot decide that any person deserves Hell with no chance of redemption. For one thing, it's not our decision; it's God's. For another, if we've already decided, we've drawn a box around who can be reached with the power of the Gospel, and who can't. That limits our evangelism, our prayer life, and the challenges from God we're able to hear for our lives. And that does not advance God's plan for us.

What makes radical Christianity different from radical anything else is that we truly believe there is no one outside the reach of Christ's grace. This isn't to say that everyone will believe in that grace or respond to our invitations to experience it, but neither is that objection an excuse for us not to earnestly reach out to everyone and try to share the story we have. If it turns out some surprising people are in Heaven because of the outreach of radical Christians, so much the better.

We may not ever stop believing that repentance and redemption is a possibility for anyone.

As we're getting ready for Lent to begin, I think a worthwhile exercise is to ask God to expand the boxes we work in so that we can believe and act as if no one is outside them, no one is not worth prayer and outreach.

1 comment:

Tony Myles said...

A box couldn't hold Jesus in on Resurrection Sunday... nor should it today.