Let me just be really honest: I hope that everybody gets to be included in God’s kingdom. There are lots of different ways to say that: universalism is the “theological word” for it, a concept where, essentially, “everybody’s saved.” It’s not the orthodox position of the church, particularly in the south, and saying or thinking it can get you into trouble, called a heretic, etc. But if I’m honest, it’s what I hope for.
Because of that, passages like Luke 13:22-30 is a difficult passage for me to read. Verse 28 says, “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves are thrown out.” This is a tough verse to read and interpret, and honestly, I wish it wasn’t in the Bible.
However, this passage challenges me to not be so lax in my efforts to share my faith with other people. It encourages me to invite people into a relationship with Christ and to invite them into the Body of Christ, the Church. I think my main objection to “evangelism” is that for so long, it’s been characterized as an invitation out of something (a “Get Out of Hell Free Card”), rather than an invitation INTO something, a life-giving, transformative relationship with Christ.
The truth of the matter is that God is throwing a party, and everyone’s invited! Who doesn’t want to come to a good party? (And who could throw a better party than God!?) Now, this train of thought has implications for how the church does church. For many of us, especially in Mainline denominations, our worship feels more like a funeral than a party. If we’re inviting people to a party, we should consider actually throwing a party. What if our worship felt like a celebration of life? A celebration of God’s goodness? A celebration of the power and reality of the resurrection? What if our worship was full of energy, enthusiasm, emotion, and excitement?
I’m much more into the idea of inviting people to a party than the alternative.