It’s easy to think of people in terms of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’. That The World is an entity separate and apart from The Church, and the very basis of our identity is wrapped up in having a line drawn between the two groups. Then we imagine that if God were to choose a side, He would plant His feet just as firmly on our side of the line as we do and join us in glaring fiercely at those who refuse to cross over to our side. He rejoices in their struggles, failings, and pain as proof of their wrong position.
Except, does that actually sound like Him? There has to be a better way to think about it.
Familiar words that pack a punch, though its power is often lost on us because we can rattle it off “by heart” without actually engaging the heart at all. Yet, it carries a great deal of meaning.
It means that God wanted so badly to be in unity with each and every one of the people He created in His image that He proposed marriage to everyone who ever existed. He came in close, offered the promise of a committed life with Him, and asked if we would take Him up on it. As proof, He paid all that it would cost with His own life, giving that which was valuable to Him to His beloved. As a man presents a woman with an engagement ring, Jesus gave us Himself to prove His dedication and sincerity.
And every single person who has lived or will live since then has the choice to merge their life with His, or not. Some of us have accepted His proposal and now live a mutual life with Him. Just like marriage, we don’t do very well some days, but the commitment is there, the base assumption that we live this life together. Others have not yet accepted His offer, but it still stands. It will stand until time ends. He loves each person so dearly that He will wait patiently for their answer.
Do we really feel justified to look down on anyone else for where they fall in their process with Him? Do we truly think that God has assigned us the task of determining whether others have missed their chance? Or, when we really think about it, do we recognize that such an assumption makes no sense in light of the God who has shown us such grace, accepted us so freely, and continued steadfast in His love for us despite our own flaws?
Who are we to write off anyone to whom He has made such an offer? Who are we to be stingy with love when we have received it abundantly? If we are His representatives here on earth, then we show others what this committed life with Him looks like, which means being open to those He has invited. After all, it’s His kingdom.