In Or Out?
Those who once were partners in ministry with me have “left the faith” and become hardened to God.
Those once “in” have now declared themselves “out”.
Much has also been made of the fact that I don’t get too wound up about these defections from the ranks of the declared holy.
I suppose I need to clarify “why” I don’t slap on sackcloth and mourn the self damnation of my friends.
First, salvation is a process…justification is a one time shot (according to those more learned than me), but the Scriptures say that we’ve been saved, we’re being saved, and we will be saved.
Processes can look really, really, messy.
Never judge a process when the process is still in process…
Next, I’m familiar with the primary reasons people choose not to believe anymore.
The two main categories are those who have noted painfully that there can be massive cognitive dissonance between what the church teaches and how the church behaves, and those who note that their experiences in life do not seem to match up with the promises of Scripture.
Disappointment with the church and disappointment with God as determined by experience.
I’ve been in both places and know how painful both can be.
My guess is that if I can cut them some slack, God does too…He’s cut me a bunch over the years…
Theologically, I believe that in the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Resurrection, God proved his love for all people and a “desire to save all men”.
Yes, I know that all will not be saved and there’s mystery there.
I can argue all the doctrines about election, free will vs. sovereignty, etc., etc, but we will end up in more mystery, not less.
Last time I checked, the elect don’t have a bell that rings so you can easily identify them.
Adding to the mystery is the fact that some of the basest scoundrels I’ve ever known have been determined elect by popular vote…
My job as a pastor and a friend is to live my faith out in front of people in love.
Lest you think this is a dereliction of doing “the hard things”, try loving folks who don’t want to be loved…and who don’t return what you give.
Faith is not simply a series of doctrinal propositions…it’s a relationship with the living God.
Sometimes relationships get broken and need some time and space for reconciliation to happen.
I believe in a God who not only loves, but loves enough to finish what He starts. (Phil 1:6, Romans 8:30)
He almost always does so in a process…but He always does so.
I’m sure you’ll all make your own application…