A central point of the message about Jesus is that the Father sent him to bring about a change in our situation whereby we are rescued from a life of alienation and fear, both in this life and the next. The story of the work and message of Jesus is found in the New Testament, which is written by his early followers.
This message is often called the ‘good news’, and it IS good news. We discover that we no longer need to be alienated from the Father, from ourselves, or from each other. This good news gives us joy, meaningfulness, and anticipation of its full implementation. It affects us now but will ultimately result in a complete absence of what we call suffering.
This is good news indeed!
The Kingdom of God and the Father’s House
In the New Testament, Jesus talks a lot about this state of living in the reality of the good news. Jesus uses the term Kingdom of God, but the Kingdom of God is only a metaphor for that reality and it has taken on a lot of baggage over the years, so we will use a different metaphor.
Since God is the Father and we are his family, we will think in terms of those who are part of his household and those who are not. We will talk about the Father’s House.
With this in mind, let us return to the concept of being rescued from a life of alienation and fear. In fundamentalist/evangelical circles, the term frequently used for this rescue is ‘salvation’, and those who experience ‘salvation’ are said to be ‘saved’. This is well and good, but the term ‘saved’ suggests another group of people known as the ‘unsaved’ (or lost), so that there is a very strong distinction between the two.
The Concept of the Unsaved
This concept is not unique to fundamentalists and evangelicals, but for them ‘unsaved’ is a prominent driving concept. In this dichotomy between the ‘saved’ and the ‘unsaved’, there has developed a confidence that we know some things about these ‘unsaved’ individuals.
- The unsaved are without hope unless they hear about Jesus and specifically accept him as their savior.
- The unsaved will ultimately die and spend eternity in torment in hell for not accepting Jesus, even if they have never heard the good news.
- The unsaved must accept Jesus before they die.
- The unsaved will account for the vast majority of those who have ever lived.
I no longer believe any of these things. My beliefs are now based on the characterization of the Father presented by Jesus in the New Testament–not an angry, picky, vindictive God but the Father of empathy, compassion, and care.
Let us consider two models. Fundamentalists/evangelicals are known for taking the good news to those who have not yet accepted Jesus. In fact, that is what evangelical means: those who share the good (EU) news (ANGELLION). The term for this activity is called evangelism. The goal of this activity is to bring individuals into the Kingdom of God, or as I describe it—The Father’s House.
But fundamentalists, evangelicals and many other Christian traditions operate from what I consider to be a restricted perspective of the Father’s House. They perceive themselves to be inviting people to come into the house, when in fact we are all already in the house.
Does this suggest Universalism? Not necessarily because I don’t think the Father would keep someone in his house against their own free will.
Are You Part of the Father’s House?
Next time, we will discuss what this means to us and to others. Do you think you are part of the Father’s House?
- Jesus without Baggage exists to assist and support those questioning beliefs they have been taught in fundamentalist, traditional evangelical, and other groups. If you know someone who might find Jesus without Baggage helpful, feel free to send them the introductory page: About Jesus without Baggage.