Everybody. That is all.
In case you’re still confused, here’s one of my favorite verses, 2 Peter 3:9:
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (KJV)
I’m a big fan of that last part, “not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance.” Does God know who’s going to repent and who’s not? Yes. Do we know who’s going to repent and who’s not? No. So do we get to just assume that “that person” is permanently lost and blow them off and make excuses for not praying for them?
In years past, I was a little more mouthy on the Internet than I am these days. I made the grievous error of getting into debates with people on messageboards and social media, and it invariably sucked because people tend to suck. Plus, the anonymity of the Internet coupled with the disconnect from real-world consequences tends to exacerbate that. It also didn’t help matters that I joined Facebook at the same time Obama was elected, while I was still a new Christian.
Hoo boy. Let’s just say I lost a lot of “friends” during the early years of that guy’s administration. Behold, an actual comment I left on somebody’s post:
Guess what? God loves President Obama.
As you might imagine, that went over like a ton of bricks, because for some reason people think “political party” is something you should be proud of.
I have never, ever understood this.
To me, defining yourself by political affiliation is just lazy shorthand that people use to determine whether you’re “with us or against us.” Oh, you’re a Republican? You hate women and minorities and gays and pretty much everybody because you belong to the Party of Hate and YOU WILL NOT DIVIDE US. Oh look, a Democrat. You’re a baby-murdering Muslim jihadi welfare queen who wants to take our guns FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (KJV)
John 3:17 is the verse right after the famous one, the one you see on signs and associate with rainbow-haired weirdos and Tim Tebow’s face paint. Contextually, it reminds us of God’s love by his determination to offer salvation to the entire world via the sacrificial offering of Christ.
So look, here’s a partial list of actual people who are loved by God.
In no particular order, God loves:
- Donald Trump
- Hillary Clinton
- Casey Anthony
- The woman talking on her cellphone who cut in front of you in traffic the other day
- Kim Kardashian
- Ann Coulter
- Rod Stewart
- That guy in the viral YouTube video kicking a dog in the face
- Dr. Phil
- Vladimir Putin
- Harvey Weinstein
- The obnoxious kid who bullies your kid at school
- Kim Jong-Un
- Wil Wheaton
- George Soros
- Your ex
- Sarah Palin
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg
- Paris Hilton
- The person who abused you
- OJ Simpson
- That person you hate, you know the one
I don’t know where any of these people stand with God.
Neither do you.
Yes, we can look at someone’s behavior and make assumptions. The Lord knows I’m constantly on the receiving end of such piercing rays of judgment. I know for a fact that I’m born again, I was there when it happened, and I have no doubt that I’m going to heaven when I die. But other people look at my choices, my reactions, my relationships, my screwups, and all my myriad failures, and they jump to their own conclusions.
We ALWAYS do this with people who are on “the other side.”
Don’t get me wrong, a number of people in the above list have done some very bad things. At the same time, thousands and millions of people every single day are committing terrible crimes. It’s not okay. And people who emphasize God’s unconditional love without also underscoring the need for repentance in Christ are doing nobody any favors.
Above all, I still come back to “not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to REPENTANCE.” God loves the people we disagree with, who voted for the “wrong” candidate, who hurt us or our loved ones. Most importantly, he loves the ones we hate and wants them to turn from their sin, and turn to him. We have to remember that, especially when we as Christians are talking to each other, yammering out loud in public, and online.
We all stand at our own pulpit, and the world is listening. Be careful what you preach.