But what about heaven and hell? you ask. Is everybody in?
My reply: Why do you consider me qualified to make this pronouncement? Isn’t this God’s business? Isn’t it clear that I do not believe this is the right question for a missional Christian to ask? Can’t we talk for a while about God’s will being done on earth as in heaven instead of jumping to how to escape earth and get to heaven as quickly as possible? Can’t we talk for a while about overthrowing and undermining every hellish stronghold in our lives and in our world?
Imagine you are driving down a country road on a journey west from New York to Los Angeles. You find yourself at a flashing red light somewhere in South Florida. You can turn left, turn right, or go straight. The road to the left heads toward Boca Raton. The road to the right leads toward Naples. The third road leads south toward Key West, through the Everglades. None of the roads leans in the general direction of Los Angeles. What do you do? Which road do you take? What are you doing in Florida anyway? The fact that you have to choose between these three destinations means that you are already far off track! But you have to go somewhere, so what do you do?
Here’s what you do: you admit that you’ve been lost for a long, long time – like for the last 750-plus miles. You whack yourself in the forehead for not realizing this sooner, and then you make a U-turn and head back north until you find I-10, which will send you west toward the City of Angels.
This is how I feel when I’m offered a choice between the roads of exclusivism (only confessing Christians go to heaven), universalism (everyone goes to heaven) , and inclusivism (Christians go to heaven, plus at least some others). Each road takes you somewhere, to a place with some advantages and disadvantages, but none of them is the road of my missional calling: blessed in this life to be a blessing to everyone on earth.
One signpost tells me that some people aren’t ever going to be blessed, so I should just rejoice that I am one of the blessed – meaning I can retire in Naples, Florida, and enjoy the blessings of golf on the Gulf. One sign post tells me that everybody is already blessed, so I can watch the sun rise each morning from the beach in Boca Raton. The other signpost tells me that maybe some are blessed and maybe they aren’t, which means I proceed straight ahead into the swamp and feel confused, not knowing what to do.
But my mission isn’t to figure out who is already blessed, or not blessed, or unblessable. My calling is to be blessed so I can bless everyone. I’m going to Los Angeles!