The Bible nowhere qualifies the command to help the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, and the poor. The Bible never says “help the Christian poor” or “help the poor only if they listen to a 30-minute sermon.” God told the Israelites that they are God’s people if they help the poor and bring justice to the oppressed. No qualifiers. No agenda. No strings attached. Just love. Scandalous love. Jesus love. The kind we teach and preach about – the free gift of God, that we do not deserve and cannot earn.
These words come from one of my favorite blogs “Red Letter Christians” and really got me to thinking lately. In the past, that is in my previous Catholic and Lutheran lives I was told that God only loves people like us; that is other Catholic or Lutherans. Therefore our job was to talk to our neighbors and anyone else who might listen to try to convince them to join us. If they didn’t hell we were told was a surety. Of course this message has morphed somewhat over the years but its underlying theme remains the same. God only loves certain kinds of people who call themselves Christians.
Of course now that I am following Jesus and his words with no particular denominational affiliation I no longer march to this previous drummer. I take the words of Joy Bennett above to heart. God did not qualify his commands to help others. I find it kind of strange that when Martin Luther finally discovered the words of St. Paul in the epistle of Ephesians he did not take it all the way to its final conclusion. He deemed that God’s grace is a gift and not by works. But then he went on to put conditions on that gift. You have to be a Christian, you have to say the right words and belong to the right groups. You have to have the correct faith.
I no longer believe that God puts conditions on his love or grace. It is indeed free for all and unconditional. In that regard I am leaning strongly toward the concept of universal salvation. God will save us all in his own time and manner. I won’t invent anything like purgatory to show how God will do that; I will leave that up to Him. 🙂 In the Bible, He indeed told us he loves us all and wants everyone to come to him. In the coming weeks I will be presenting some of the things that have finally pushed me in this direction. When we accept God’s grace as universal it changes a lot about what we should be doing while we occupy this world. I will also be getting into those areas.
Of course, I realize that my beliefs are simply that; they are mine. I don’t claim any special connection to the Divine One. I won’t try to push what I believe on anyone else. I write them here in order to maybe help you with your path to God to see that you are not alone with these kind of thoughts.