Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Don't Miss the Party

Q:  I've heard that eternity is supposed to be wonderful and never-ending joy. So why would God only invite "the chosen" and not everybody? Isn't everybody invited?
A:  So glad you asked!  Yes, everybody -- without exception -- is invited. God created people to be invited into his love and life forever. Everybody is "chosen" through the chosen one, Jesus Christ (Heb 5:5). Jesus has already paid the painful price for our wandering and rebellion, and has already brought us, with him, into the Father's embrace. Now, sometimes we
see people whom we don't think are nice enough or have the right attributes to be included, and we think maybe they're not, and sometimes people see God's invitation badly and don't accept. Let's look.

Some don't want to see the open love of God for them and others, for various reasons. Even some religious people. There's a classic example in Luke's gospel as he records Jesus performing a miraculous healing and resurrection (7:1-17), then praises John the Baptist, who came before him. And there's a fascinating sentence right after that:

Luke 7:30 -- "But the Pharisees and experts in religious law rejected God’s plan for them, for they had refused John’s baptism."

Luke uses the word "refused" as the indicator, or proof, of the decision of those who "rejected God's plan for them." Let's note, God's plan for them was to include them -- even though we might think of them as self-righteous, mean and snooty. Among other words. In spite of their problems, God included them, because he loves the world (John 3:16-17). Though they were included, they excluded themselves. What a pity!

Whether we see the fruit in someone's life right now, is not a final indicator of their place with God. He has thousands of opportunities, every day, to reach the hard-hearted. And after death, when they reach "the judgment" -- a time of decision, in the Greek -- they will meet the Judge who is also the perfect sacrifice for their sins (ours too, by the way). Knowing the power and majesty and glory of the risen Jesus Christ (see Rev. 1:10-18), I doubt they'll hold onto their self-will and stubbornness for long.

Yes, the 'eternal party in heaven' is for all people, everywhere, including anybody you will meet today.  Let me suggest that if you know this, the party has already started, the music is playing and the food is already out -- so dig in! Don't be one of those who misses the party by being a grump!

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