The first time I heard the term "Christian Universalist" was about a year ago. The first time I started thinking about the idea was about 5 years ago. In a conversation the question was posed, "What if God wanted to save everyone?" and that has stuck in my mind ever since. I did not realize this idea was one that was surfacing in Christian theological debates and kept these ponderings to myself, talking with God about them and simply daring to dream of such an incomprehensible goodness.
I was taken aback when I began to hear other people asking the same question, realizing that this question is not a new one.
The general whispering about these ideas seemed necessary because what if we are wrong? I've now heard the general proposition against ultimate redemption as the fear that this life will not matter if such a belief is held. Or that Christ will be minimized. "If all people will be saved, then what's the point of missions, evangelism, and general Christianity?"
Here's the catch for me...In my mind it does not in any way make this life less important! If anything it points to our charge as the Body as all that more glorious. We are not simply saving people from an afterlife of suffering, we are ushering in the Kingdom here and now. We don't wait for heaven, we start now.
The protestant emphasis on salvation can also be argued to make this life not matter either. Once saved, what is the point?
But if the purpose of this life is to usher in the Kingdom, to BE Christ on this earth working toward redemption of all creation, well, that's a job now. It is all through Jesus, it is all about Jesus, and his victory. Why is this a hard pill to swallow? Must fear be a motivator? What if LOVE was the motivation behind what the Body of Christ does in this world? Perfect Love casts out fear…
The closer I get to God, the more vast and impossible God becomes to me. Not smaller and definable. This is an impossible task. This type of Love only makes me want to do more for the God who has the ability, the passion to redeem all. A God who cares about the CREATION that God CREATED. Every life, every beautiful creature, every ugly one…
Redemption through the death of Jesus. Full, complete, beyond our comprehension and that's okay.
I'm afraid of believing this because I'm afraid of being wrong…but why stay in fear when there is another option as freeing and fulfilling as Love? Why would I not want to do everything with the life I've been given to bring that Love to others NOW? Oh, to know the deep wide Love of Jesus. To share that Love with others is absolutely important in this life. There is grand purpose in that.
Now, I'm no theologian, this is my heart speaking, so tear my ponderings to shreds if you must. But these are the musings of my heart at this moment, and as they have come up recently in popular culture (namely Rob Bell's new book Love Wins) I felt compelled to put these thoughts into words.
The question for me becomes much less about the truth or heresy of the idea in question, and much more about what is this life all about, anyway? Starting there almost makes the argument for itself.
Perhaps this is a question that our mysterious creator only knows the answer to. When we emphasize our purpose of this life rather than our eternal destination, could it be that in the end we learn to Love and trust our Father in that His Love will be just, right, and true…beyond our comprehension, whichever way it turns out.
We do out of Love. We are transformed by the Spirit. Maybe this transformation and our obedience out of Love of our Savior is where it matters. When I grow more like my savior and more into that Love, why would I NOT be compelled to share that Love with the world? The nature of that Love would not permit me to be apathetic or disengaged from the suffering world around me. It would draw me into Loving the loveless, the hated, the ugly, the poor and suffering. It would compel me to Love the haters, the unjust, the abusers. That Love is terrifying.
Maybe that is why we settle for debates over the eternal destination of souls. Eternity always seems far away and that is not nearly as dreadful as confronting the Love that is present, this Love that is yearning to break into this world, and more poignantly into the heart.