On rare, very rare occasions, my wife holds a conversation with me about things that matter to me. I’m not referring to sports, music, books, food, or pop culture. None of these things really interest me in the least. I can talk about them, but I don’t actually care about them. They are noise. I don’t like to talk about the noise. I like to talk about the low hum of God in all of this noise.
And today, on the final day of our cruise, we talked about the low hum of God.
Jessey started reading a book, by a modern heretic, that caused this modern heretic to be labeled a heretic. The book is “Love Wins” by Rob Bell. I read the book in about a day when it came out and haven’t thought about it much since. Honestly, when I read it, I thought, “Well, that’s a book I could have written about five years ago.” It was nothing new to me. And I had decided about 4 years ago that the conversation wasn’t as important as I thought it was.
But this book is beautiful. If you haven’t read it because of all of the buzz it caused, you should give it a chance. There’s some iffy logic, but there’s also some pretty fantastic theology about soteriology and eschatology in this book. And its very accessible (you don’t have to know what soteriology or eschatology mean to understand this book).
I forced my wife to read the book out loud this evening, because I like her voice, I haven’t read it in awhile, and I wanted her to stay awake and engaged in the conversation the book leads to. She tends to disengage by falling asleep when her brain hurts. I was helping her avoid this phenomenon. She came to a point in the book where Rob declares that, when all is said and done, love wins in the end. And I asked her what she thought about that.
We talked about evangelism in light of the idea that love wins in the end. I, playing the devil’s advocate, asked Jessey what the point would be for Christians to participate in evangelism, or sharing this good news, if ultimately God was going to reconcile all things to himself in the end (as the Bible says). What’s the point of inviting people into a dynamic relationship with Jesus if, ultimately, it doesn’t matter what they do with Jesus? If “love wins” in the end, then why should anyone care about sharing the good news with Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, Humanists, etc.? What does Jesus have to offer to them?
This conversation continued through a few walks through the cruise ship, a comedy show (which put the conversation on pause), and packing our suitcases. Jessey asked me some pointed and difficult questions too. She knows that I believe, ultimately, that “God gets what God wants”, and according to Scripture, God wants to redeem all humanity and creation and for all mankind to be saved. So, she asked me what I thought the point of evangelism was. Is it just a matter of assurance of salvation?
I declared a wholehearted and hearty yes, even though I wasn’t as confident as I sounded. In all of the major world religions aside from Christianity, there is a lack of assurance when it comes to eternal life. Muslims have no clue what will happen to them when they die, and neither do Jews. They simply do as much as they can in this life to cover over all of the inevitable bad that they will do in hopes that salvation is theirs. Hindus and Buddhists have a different view involving a sort of reincarnation which leads to one becoming like God or becoming God, but every Hindu and Buddhist knows that they have not yet arrived there in this life. Atheists and Humanists don’t think anything happens when we die, but they don’t know that. They believe it because it contradicts Christian views of the afterlife, but they don’t know it. They aren’t sure.
But I am sure. I know without any doubt that I am going to be participating in the new heaven/earth/Jerusalem in eternity. I have been given that assurance because I believe that, in Jesus, God is indeed reconciling everything to himself and that I am part of that story. And, even though everyone else is a part of that story, I know that I am. That’s the difference. I know that the kingdom of heaven that is at hand and is available here as well as there is in me now. That’s the good news. That assurance is the good news. I know what everyone else is trying to figure out. I know that God is going to call all things to himself at a big banquet. That he is going to be the light of the new Jerusalem, a city whose gates never close. I know this, and not everyone does.
Which is the point of evangelism. Its not necessarily to make Christians. Its to show people what Jesus was all about, and that it means that life is theirs if they want life. And death is theirs if they want death. Because there is no compulsion in love. It’s freedom.
I can’t express with words how gratifying, life-giving, and satisfying it was to have this depth of conversation with my wife this evening. She never ceases to amaze me. I am so proud of where we have come in 10 years, and I am so looking forward to what the next 10 have for us.