Originally posted on Saturday, September 4, 2004
Alyson is home from college for Labor Day weekend. While shes in town, she decided to get some homework done, a decision I heartily endorse. Her mission this time is to interview someone of a different faith. She chose her grandmother, a member of the Community of Christ (aka RLDS). Although I didnt witness this interview, I had it related to me in considerable detail by both Aly and Penny, who witnessed it but was forbidden to speak. Theyd have had to stick a cork in my mouth to keep me quiet, Im afraid. Apparently, the conversation went something like this:
Alyson: Who do you believe will go to heaven?
Grandma: I believe that everybody will go to heaven. Except murderers. I mean, if the murderers confess their murder and change their lives, then they will go to heaven, too.
Alyson: So youre sure that youre going to heaven.
Grandma: Well, you cant be sure until you die. You have to do the best that you can and hope that its enough. [I know this sounds like the guy in the FAITH video series, but thats what she said.]
Alyson: But I thought that you said that everybody would go to heaven.
Grandma: Yes, everybody will eventually go to heaven. First, theyll go to a holding place where theyll have the chance to learn about God and choose for him.
Alyson: And will they be able to choose against him?
Grandma: Yes, of course, because otherwise they wouldnt have free will.
Alyson: So what will happen to the people who choose for God?
Grandma: Theyll go to heaven, of course.
Alyson: And the ones who choose against him?
Grandma: I dont think they will choose against him, because everybodys going to go to heaven.
Alyson: Why do you think thats so?
Grandma: Because God loves us and he wouldnt let any of us go to hell!
Wrong! If Id have been there Id have been yelling wrong at that point. Yes, God loves us, but that doesnt mean that God will just ignore our sins. How do I know this? If we havent figured it out by reading Hosea and Joel, then maybe we can find it from Amos. Sandwiched in history between Joels day and that of Hosea, Amos brought a sharp word of warning to the nations around Israel.
For three sins of Damascus, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Time after time, Amos speaks for God predicting the doom of the various nations surrounding Israel. Why were they doomed? For three sins, even for four. He doesnt name their sins, but presumably they know about them.
Whoever taught my mother-in-law that sin doesnt really matter did her a grave disservice. Yes, God loves us, and yes, he gives us every opportunity to escape the penalties of our sins, but God will punish sin in the end.
This ladys theology is confused to a dangerous degree. But we have no excuse to live in that sort of confusion. Those who trivialize sin do so at their own peril and sometimes at the peril of others.