The conversation we had at our last VLC worship gathering was incredible – reminiscent of a highly engaged college lecture with questions and comments coming from all over the room. We finally had to call time, because we could have continued for hours. Here is a link to the recording of that conversation. The talk, jointly shared with Ken Karnes and I, began with the topic of forgiveness, but toward the end of our discussion the focus opened up to include what it means to be a Christian, heaven, and hell. As the focus opened up, so did the stance on the traditional positions of these topics, leaning toward inclusivity and faith in God as a just judge.
For a moment I felt that we may have gone too far, then it occurred to me that we hadn’t gone far enough. The tendency, when embracing a more open and inclusive view toward spirituality, is to become lukewarm and complacent, as if it doesn’t really matter. But, I realized that when we seek openness we must also become more resolute in our commitment to loving God by loving those around us. If we believe that the message of God’s love is for all people and is accessible by all people, then we as agents of that love must be willing to love beyond ourselves to the place that we find ourselves completely dependent on the God’s grace to be love for others. That was Jesus’ example for us.
It is not our responsibility to create an entrance exam for heaven and give Jesus a thumbs up or down after our assessment. Rather, we are to care about the people Jesus brings us, believing that heaven is a worthy destination for everyone and that it is our responsibility to love those who are before us so that they too will know and love Jesus and would want to do the same.
So, what does this love look like? My answer may be a bit subjective, but Jesus didn’t give us the Holy Spirit for nothing. Not only does the Holy Spirit reveal Jesus to us, but he also fills us with his grace and power so that we can walk in the ways of Jesus. We can ask the Holy Spirit to show us how to love as Jesus loves, just as Jesus did, only doing and saying what he saw and heard from the Father.
If we are serious about this, then we can expect to be stretched by what we hear from the Spirit, but we can also expect to find the grace and strength of the Spirit to carry it through. I’m excited to see what will unfold as we seek to love this way.