A stunning sets of stats: A church goes an entire year and no one is drawn to follow Jesus in the wake of their following, no one has even stumbled on to the truth, no one has developed a curiosity or thirst or hunger. That is nigh on to unthinkable in light of some basic tenets of God’s redemptive embrace of the cosmos—things which Wesleyan Christ-followers have always affirmed.
I’ve already reminded you that God wants all people to be saved, and wants this so badly that he doesn’t wait for us to realize it or even to do anything. He’s all the time at work, all around us–24/7 and at every set of coordinates. A pastor told me the other day that his church often has—his words: “Salvations just drop into our laps”—laps of the church that is. Exactly! That’s how committed God is! And what God wants to do is not half-way or make sift. As messed up as we humans are, God determines to make it up—talk about extreme make-over, that’s the plan for every person. Which means, that every way one can have a need is a potential open door or a cracked window, or perhaps a structural weakness in the wall that separates a needy person from the rushing flood of comprehensively healing grace. All those “opportunities” for us to make connection with all those people all around us, all the time AND a whole year passes and out of them all there isn’t even one! Unbelievable!
Here’s another thing: all people may know they are saved. They may have confident awareness that the God of the universe knows their name, loves them beyond words, and seeks their company. And, they may confidently enjoy that very company. The God of the universe knows how to squeeze himself small enough to fit into our little hearts and teach us his name—which is, in Aramaic, Abba—pops or dad. Is that great or what? Is that compelling if real or what? Is that contagious for a person so God-connected and God-loved and God-sure about it all, or what? How, then, in a world so clouded over with skepticism and cynicism , leaving people longing for something sure, can some of the longing folks rub shoulders with us and not be drawn in? I don’t get it at all!
Here’s another thing: God loves and wants to restore the whole universe. He’s not only interested in humans but in all of reality. He has made humans to join him in loving, caring for, developing, drawing out the potential of just about everything that exists. What that means, among other things, is that the human urge to know, understand, explore, find out, solve the problems, enjoy the beauty, create some more beauty, just to begin the list, is actually from God, reflective of his character, and moving into areas of his passionate concern. So, not only the church but all things, all people, all places, all parts of the universe qualifiy as opportunity for God to work his plan. And, come to find out, that for some groups that call themselves church—a whole year goes by and no place, no person, no time has ever worked out? Again, as I type, my mouth wants to drop open in stunned shock.
Here’s a final thing to chew on a bit: our best traditions teach us we are all made to be “in the game,” to play a role in God’s grand designs for the universe. God works lovingly and powerfully in our lives so we will be part of the solution of all that’s gone wrong in his world. Our destiny is to be gathered up into God’s healing responses to the brokenness of the world. We were made for this! How sad that some never get that, never sense they are participating in things that make the difference for others and the cosmos. What’s stunning to me is that though they are missing the most profound and joyful reason for the hope they claim to have, still they go on. If God’s compelling love and transforming power manifesting here and there, and all over the place, doesn’t motivate them, then what does?