Don’t worry. It’s all going to be okay.
One of my main goals for this blog is to let people know that they are loved and to uplift them, so for my inaugural theological post, I thought I would begin at the ending and talk about the ultimate outcome of the story of humanity. That is, I want to talk about the final victory of good over evil, of love over hate, of God over brokenness.
Innately, we humans are drawn to narratives in which love conquers all and, after a long battle, evil is finally defeated. This basic arc is echoed all through human history in everything from Beowulf to Harry Potter to the Christian scriptures.
The ultimate idea isn’t that Harry Potter defeats Voldemort or that Luke Skywalker defeats Darth Vader. It’s that good conquers evil and wins. I believe that is a concept that translates not only to evil within the world, but to the evil within individual people as well.
Many theologians argue that if one believes in universal salvation, one rejects the notion of morality entirely. This is not the case. A universalist point of view argues merely that the punishment, the consequences, for sin occur in this life. After all, God is not some omniscient parent in the sky grounding us for breaking curfew; the punishment for sin is neither more nor less than the equal and opposite reactions caused by our transgressions. We lie, therefore we are no longer trusted; we cheat, robbing others and ourselves of honest victories; we fail to love, hurting others and in turn cheating ourselves of the opportunity to be loved.
I would argue, in fact, that far from advocating a world without true right or wrong, that this is true morality. If ultimately, we all face love and redemption, perfect peace and restoration instead of terrible wrath, we are free to do the right thing because it is the right thing, not because we have a stake in something else. We are free to love because it is good and noble to love, not for fear of our eternal punishment or hope of our eternal reward.
We talk about God and sin as being mutually exclusive. It’s a commonly accepted notion that God cannot be in the presence of evil. Not that God doesn’t like to or doesn’t want to or has chosen not to, but that it is one of the laws of nature that, like light and dark, God and evil cannot coexist simultaneously.
However, I have found that usually, the way theologians discuss this principle paints a picture of a God as a being who is ultimately weaker than sin. We talk of a God who fled from the world when sin entered it and who creates a kind of holding pin – hell – to trammel all of the sin that remains at the end of the world so that it cannot further drive out God’s presence as They finally are in perfect communion with Their creation.
All I am proposing is the radical notion that we reframe this issue to reflect the belief that our God is in fact omnipotent—stronger than life and death, angels and demons, heaven and hell and principalities – a Good that is certainly more powerful than Evil.
When one turns on the light in a darkened room, the light does not turn on its heel and flee because it cannot be in the presence of darkness. The darkness simply ceases to be. It is gone, vanquished, because the light is stronger than the darkness.
This is what prepares us for eternal glory and harmony with God and each other. After we die even the most depraved and terrible of us is purified by the all-consuming love of God like water is purified by ultraviolet light
No matter how strong or dark that evil was or the terrible things that we do, when faced with the ultimate love and glory of God at our very own end of the world, it simply cannot survive.
The new creation promises freedom from the brokenness of sin: the broken relationships, the broken hearts, and the broken lives. If at the end, anyone remains in separation from the perfect unity of the new creation, that constitutes a kind of brokenness, and I simply cannot believe that the gracious love of God would permit a new creation that is still out of keeping with the perfect original vision of the way we were all meant to exist together.
I am convinced that at the end of days, the new creation restores everything and everyone, all the broken relationships in the world, all the broken people. As Rob Bell once stated so eloquently, love wins.