“I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.” —Isaiah 44:22 NLT
This verse sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? It sounds so good that, when spoken in terms of universal forgiveness, a “good Christian” should automatically assume that it must be taken out of context or applied too broadly. Radical fundamentalists may even bash the version of the Bible from which it was taken. Why do Christians, for the most part, have such a hard time with the idea of inclusivism? Why did I?
As I think back on the time I passionately denounced the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation (UR), I realize that I assumed it was much like Unitarian Universalism (UU), which conflicts with much of what makes Christianity what it is. It, primarily, denies the exclusivity of Jesus. Although Christ is close-knitted with CU, I assumed that it was, at best, a slippery slope toward a rejection of important theological truths.
Although there are many factors that influence Christians to react as they do toward CU, some of the most troublesome factors have to do with its inclusivity. Most Christians would say that they would love for God to finally reconcile all things in heaven and on earth, but the vast majority of them brush such a notion off as wishful thinking . . . as “too good to be true.”
The problem here is that the world is so used to bad news that when an anomaly of good news finally occurs, we assume that there has to be some negativity lurking somewhere in its shadows. However, the Gospel has no shadows because its source is Light. Where there is light, there is no darkness; although there may be a shadow or two between it and its target. What is it that stands between the Gospel and those created in the image of God?
Initially, when I began my journey with Christ, I remained tormented with certain fears. I failed to realize that God was already pleased with me and desires for me to thrive within his pleasure and to allow that to produce the fruits that I was struggling to yield. I was afraid of displeasing God. Therefore, I was unable to grow in him. After seasons of pruning, I began to rest in his grace. Only then could I see the Gospel for what it truly was—the best news the world could ever receive; although many are struggling to receive it.
With God, there is no “too good to be true.” In light, there is no darkness. In Love, there is no fear. To truly trust in God is to rest wholly in who he is—absolute good. Christians do not need to fear inclusive theology because God is inclusive. He created us, inclusively, in his own image. If he were exclusive when it came to the Gospel, he would not be one. If he were to cast any one of us away from his presence forever, he would then be casting a part of himself away forever; if he loses just one of us forever, he will have lost himself in the process.
Many have walked away from the light because of a faulty perspective and others have been chased into the recesses of outer darkness by doctrines of fear. Knowing the end from the beginning, the Lord is longsuffering. He has never desired for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance. Therefore, he has paid the price to set you free. Not only that, but he has already swept away your sins like a cloud and scattered your offenses like the morning mist. There is nothing left for you to do but to return because you are forgiven.
Regardless of what you have been told, God doesn’t need to be reconciled to you. Your thinking toward him is what is in need of reconciliation. You are forgiven. All that remains is for you to forgive yourself.
Our Heavenly Father is ever beckoning: “Return, my beloved child. You are mine and you are truly missed!”