There's A Lot Of Room In The Circle
From time to time people ask me about my thoughts on God's grace, and how big I actually think God's grace really is.
It's generally a loaded question because embedded in it is a deeper question that goes something like this: "Who do you really think 'gets into heaven?'"
Now I'm not going to completely unpack what I believe the meaning of the word "heaven" is here in this devo, but suffice to say "heaven" is quite simply where God is, which is somewhere on the other side of our perceptions of reality.
But here are some thoughts on my ideas of just how big God's grace is...
To begin with, I believe God's grace is waaaayyy bigger than you or I could ever imagine. That. Is my theological opinion. You're welcome. 😁
That's not saying a whole lot, though. Most of us can't really bend our minds around the kind of inclusive, radical grace that would include even us...
It's typical for us humans to want to believe that we're in the inside group---the winning side, so to speak. And it's also typical to want to believe that the people who don't believe like we do, act like we do and even look like we do... just might not be in that same circle.
Jesus had some thoughts for religious people who bought into that kind of dualistic thinking---the kind that placed themselves within a circle and pretty much everyone else outside of it:
On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers'" (Matthew 7:21-23)That's pretty hard to hear, especially if you think you're inside the circle.
Jesus would often say hard things like that as a way of holding a mirror up to the overly-religious, exclusive crowd that contended with his message of inclusive grace just in order for them to catch a glimpse of what they truly looked like.
Sadly, even when confronted with the truth about themselves, they refused to acknowledge it, and even went so far as to have Jesus killed in order to try and silence him.
Bob Goff is one of my favorite authors and speakers, and he recently wrote this as a way of shifting our thinking about God's expansive grace:
[God’s] planning a celebration for the whole world and [God’s] got an unlimited number of seats. There’s no budget and no tab that runs too high. It’s already settled: there is enough room and more than enough love for everyone.
I love the way Bob talks about these issues. He doesn't get hung up in the rhetorical gymnastics that so many Christian apologists seem to love performing at the drop of a hat. He just constantly comes back to the notion that God's grace is bigger than we imagine.
And that the table God sets is bigger than we thought---or even wanted it to be.
By its very essence, Christian hope is a universal hope not just for humankind, but for Creation as well. If Christian hope doesn't include an "unlimited" number of seats, restored Creation, justice and equity for everyone, and the healing, redemption, resurrection of all things... it isn't really "hope" at all.
That kind of hope quickly becomes just another way to create differences, solidify divisions, and perpetuate a false triumphalism.
God's grace is bigger than you can imagine. God's love is more inclusive than you can know. And this is good news because it means that there is room inside the circle and a place at the table for you... and me.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.