One Big Circle
I no longer think in terms of who’s a Christian and who’s not. I no longer worry about who’s in and who’s out. Are you saved? That’s not a question I ask. The Spirit’s at work I am sure.
Maybe, there is no boundary line that defines and separates, only one great big circle of God’s loving arms. God/Jesus are at the center and the Spirit is drawing all people in at the last. For me, Jesus is the center of the Circle for all things shall be gathered in him. (Eph. 1:10) He is the most complete picture of the God of light “in whom there is no darkness at all.” (I John 1:5).
Many people do not know that the Spirit is drawing them in for God has many names and Jesus said, “I have flocks that are not of this fold”. John 10:16
Most Christians would agree that Jesus may have other “flocks in other folds”, just like he said. First, the circle expanded to bring Gentiles in to one new flock of God’s family without requiring them first to be Jews.
The denominations are included. Presbyterians, Baptists or Methodists, Lutherans etc are all sheep of one Protestant fold. The Roman Catholics once thought they had a fold of their own. The Church teaching was “outside the Church no salvation.” One of my seminary professors agreed that teaching only with a broader definition of “church”. Those were different times. Today most Catholics and Protestants agree that the circle is bigger and more inclusive.
Jesus learned how to be the Messiah by studying the Torah. Without the O.T. there would be no N.T. Christians are just grafted in to the original God family tree. The Jews will certainly be in the circle of God’s loving arms. (See Romans 9)
I would expand God’s Circle making it really big. Of course, that puts me outside the fold of traditional Christian belief. There are a few verses that seem to say that God will ultimately include all at the end. Although, I admit the preponderance of Scripture suggests excluding many that I wish to include.
In reality, it doesn’t matter how large the circle I would draw. Only God can limit the circle of his/her love, but I can wish. I wish to include Wiccans, Atheists, Seekers, Agnostics and non-believers, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses and I’m not against Muslims at all.
Can my wish be less the than that of Jesus who welcomed all? How God will fill up Her Arms? I can’t imagine. A lot of the flock will need a good cleansing and most an attitude adjustment. A lot of forgiveness will be needed to make the circle complete and the flocks all peaceful and happy.
Violence as Virus
Violence is contagious. It spreads like an airborne virus. To my shame, I was once briefly infected.
I was in 7th or 8th grade living in Mt. Lebanon, an upper middle class suburb six miles South of Pittsburgh, PA. The adjacent community, just one mile closer to the city, was Dormont, somewhat “lower class”. Dormont and Mt. Lebanon high schools were arch rivals. I was present at the last sporting contest between the two schools that ended the rivalry -a basketball game.
The small gym in Dormont was filled with partisan fans. School spirit had hyped the rivalry to a high level. The game was close. Everyone was excited. There was some incident at the end of the game and a fight broke out and I was suddenly out on the gym floor. There was pushing, shoving, yelling, fighting. Some were just trying to escape.
I had a sudden urge to hit someone, to be part of the action. Caught in the excitement of the crowd, I just wanted to strike a blow for my team, my school, against those who had wronged us. I don’t even think I knew what the fight was about, it was just us vs them and I was one of the good guys. I punched some unknown person in the back. It felt good, for a moment, like I had struck a blow for my team.
It didn’t take long for shame and guilt to set in. This was not the way a “Christian” should act. I never told anyone about this little, cowardly deed. I was too ashamed to confess or to tell any one.
I am sure God forgave before I asked for forgiveness, but the memory stayed with me. I’ve remembered it now as a way of understanding how people can be caught up in a crowd by the virus of violence. Good people can do bad things in crowds and in war. None of us are immune to violence. We all need to pray.
“Lead us not into temptation (to violence ) and deliver us from ( doing) evil.” The Lord’s Prayer
God as Lover
What does it mean to say, God is love?” Is this just a nice sounding, but empty phrase? What can we know of the mysterious, marvelous God who created a universe so vast as to be more than finite minds can comprehend?
“Love” is not a noun, but a verb. Love is an action verb that involves a relationship. If God is love, God must be in relationship with someone. Who does God love?
God, Our Creator, wants to be known in relationship. If I am not in relationship with God then, for all practical purposes, I am an atheist. God may love me, but I am disconnected and unable to love God in return. God wants relationships with his creatures.
The Bible is God’s love story. It is the story of God’s struggle to be in relationship with the spirit creatures that evolved out of the animal kingdom. They were “made in God’s image” with spirit capabilities. In freedom they disconnected to make it one their own, but God will not be denied. The Bible is the story of God struggling to be known as a personal God of relationship love.
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. John 1:1 It is this relationship that Jesus, the Son, revealed and demonstrated. The Spirit of Love between them is the Holy Spirit. God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the Trinity of Love that existed before creation.
Jesus lived this relationship as a human on earth. He modeled what we are all meant to be. He wants to include us in the Trinity of Love.
As you , Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us…John 17:20