We need to decide if we believe the world is basically bad or basically good. As Christians we have a ton of bible verses, especially in the Old Testament that would indicate that the world is most assuredly evil.
I’ve heard Christians say things like, the world belongs to the devil. I certainly can’t defend all the wrong doing, greed, and selfishness we encounter on a daily basis, but I think this is a really important point and we Christians get ourselves into a lot of trouble when we sort of skim through the instructions on topics like this. It hides prejudices we apply to others which they use as an excuse to hate us and the God we represent.
But Andy, if the Bible says the world is evil then it is, right?
Well, yes, but is that all it says?
1st where do we get the idea the world is evil. We know the world is fallen. We know the world is one of three things we Chrisians battle in spiritual warfare, but the other two are Satan and our own flesh. We don’t have a problem saying our own flesh is a little nuanced. Satan is clearly evil and in my opinion, beyond redemption, but my flesh is something to be circumcised from the new me in Christ. So is the world something to be redeemed or something beyond redemption?
We need to answer this question because it determines who we are fighting. We’re told that we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with spirits and principalities (Eph. 6:12-13).
Where do we get the idea that the world is beyond redemption?
Frankly it serves organized religion, past and present, to keep people focused on Salvation as a get out of jail free card. One day we’ll go to heaven and our suffering will end forever, right? Yes, except we don’t spend eternity in heaven. Jesus brings us back to a new Earth. I won’t take time to proof text poker that one out, but it’s one of the top bad three bad theologies believed by most Christians that’s crippling our transformation and our ability to take up our purpose. (Two others are the rapture and believing that humans are only body and soul, ignoring the Spirit.)
The truth is that all of nature groans in eager expectation for the Sons and Daughters of God to be revealed. Not so we can tell them how wicked they are, but so we can lead them to the feet of God as an act of worship.
They don’t follow you if you aren’t blessing them. How do you bless something you think is unredeemable?
How you see people:
I think seeing the world as fallen and without any good has more to do with ourselves than biblical teaching.
Most people either believe others are better than them, worse than them or about the same. We do this with God too, by the way. I think the modern Christian willingness to write off everyone who doesn’t philosophically align with them comes from a similar life lens, so baked in as to be an unconscious bias.
Not since Calvin came up with predestination (which can’t be disproven BTW) have humans been so eager to embrace a superiority complex. Let me tell you my story and this will make more sense.
How I started pondering this:
I woke up a few weeks ago hearing God say, “everyone who knows me is your brother or sister and everyone who doesn’t know me is your friend.”
I had to ponder this and it led me on an awesome wild goose chase.
I remember when I reconnected to God after my father died. I’d been raised a Christian but I didn’t get serious until my father died and my pain was so great I couldn’t do anything until I asked God to be my father. When I asked that and God affirmed that he would, he showed me all the times in my life he’d pursued me. Like a movie, my life flashed before my eyes and he pointed out all the times when I was living in depravity and he’d sent me encouragement or guidance.
If God was pursuing me when I was out of relationship with him, does God pursue everyone, even those he knows won’t ever choose him?
I believe so. Its in God’s nature to love. He is love. He created Adam and Eve knowing they’d fall and his son would have to pay the price.
We know Jesus endured the cross for the glory set before him (Heb. 12:2) and that he died for us when we were not his friends (Romans 5:8).
We also know we are saved by Grace (Ephesians 2:8). So can God apply Grace to someone who hasn’t accepted it? There are Christians who will say yes. I’m not sure I’m going that far, but there is more going on here than the religion I was raised in represents and I’m determined to look at the details with God’s help before coming to a conclusion.
Many people have wrestled with questions about the salvation of babies that aren’t born, or remote tribes that never heard the Gospel. I don’t have answers that can be proven, only my own beliefs based in part on who I know God to be.
But regardless of how God applies grace in those circumstances, the question at hand is more about how we treat people now, not where they’ll end up.
Ask yourself the question this way:
We don’t have a problem with the idea that God is love and unchanging before the Earth fell, and we don’t have a problem with any of that after the world is restored at the end of time. But isn’t there a ton of confusion about it all in this time of paradox.
Adam and Eve sinned, and died for it, but not right away. Even in that moment of failure and judgment, there was restraint. God made a way. He knows the end from the beginning and exists outside time. Christ was crucified while God was forming the first couple out of earth and giving them dominion over it.
1 John 4:7-12 says…
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
That’s a lot to digest. I notice it doesn’t say our love is contingent on their salvation. We don’t know whether or not they are saved. God does. Does that mean God doesn’t love the ones that aren’t saved? This is a tough thing to ponder.
Graham Cooke says,”Grace is the power to work in the opposite of the natural.”
What if it’s not about their status in Christ, but ours. If we are saved by the blood of Christ, then we need to apply to them the fullness of Grace, not from our own strength, but as a conduit of God’s ability to love them.
I know some of you think I’m conflating “the world” and “the yet-unsaved people of this world.”
Am I though?
We Christians give ourselves a lot of false grace when we say, “I’m just a sinner saved by Grace.”
This is more than just “hate the sin and love the sinner.” The worldly institutions that we see clearly in the unsaved are also at work in us. It’s hard to see the people and not the worldly ideology driving them. When the world looks at us they recognize it in us. They think we’re just uppity sinners. Sometimes it’s true.
When I drive by two demonstrations, one in front of an abortion clinic and another in front of a prolife clinic I do see a lot more peace in the first. I see a level of transformed soul. But I can’t fault someone for saying, “I see two groups of angry people trying to force their will on others.”
No cats were harmed in the writing of this blog…
Is this a cosmic version of Schrodinger’s cat? If you’re not familiar the scientist/philosopher proposed that if you put a cat in a box with no way out and poison, you didn’t know if the cat was alive or dead until you open the box. This meant that both possibilities existed in that moment. The cat was alive and dead in a manor of speaking.
He didn’t do the experiment, by the way, it was a thought experiment.
If we say that everyone on Earth is under God’s mercy and anyone who chooses to be is under God’s grace, I assume we’re all okay with that statement.
Of course there are distinctions between our trust level with people we philosophically align with versus people who are perpendicular to our own values and worldview. There is a difference between a brother and a friend, but we can’t automatically say one is more reliable than the other.
For me, I come away from all this pondering valuing the idea that we’re all under God’s mercy and some of us are also under grace. I repent of seeing us and them. It’s all us, functionally.
Feel free to disagree with me. Let me know. Use the contact me form or reply to this post.
Until next time…