The 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 are no longer alienated from the Father, from ourselves, or from each other. This good news gives us joy, meaningfulness, and the 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!
In the New Testament, Jesus talks a lot about this state of living in the reality of the good news. One term he uses is the Kingdom of God, but the Kingdom of God is a only 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 evangelical circles, the term often 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, so that there is a strong dichotomy between the two.
This concept is not unique to evangelicals, but for them it 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 for not accepting Jesus, even if they have not 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 revised beliefs are based on the characterization of the Father presented by Jesus in the New Testament.
Let us consider two models. 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 evangelicals, along with 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.
Next time, we will discuss what this means to us and others. Do you think you are part of the Father’s House?