Before you bash me for this title, I want you to understand- I am not saying God is unfair. There are levels at which we cannot understand His motivations, but He is Fair, because He is Holy.
I have often thought how much the teachings of the great theologians might have been changed had they read a good comic book. Seriously; it forces you to leave the stringent box of reality-we-see, rather you have to accept things that may be counter-intuitive at first. Last night, I heard part of a sermon talking about one of my least favorite subjects- predestination. The idea that God picked those who would be saved right from the start, and the rest are just going through the motions. As I understand it- and I'll admit that my knowledge is not first hand- it is this principle that paints the bleak world the Jehovah's Witnesses espouse. The concept of a finite number, and if you are not among it, it doesn't matter what you do. The preacher last night used the standard verses about God having mercy on who He will. All of which is true, but I believe it comes from too limited an understanding. Follow me back to the beginning:
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
Do you understand what is being said here? This light that was created, this "day and night", was NOT as we know days and nights- for that, you need a sun for the earth to travel around, and God hadn't got to that yet. This was the foundation of TIME- something we perceive to be universal, and so it is, but God is beyond that universe, for He created it. Time also, is something He is beyond. It looks to us like predestination aka picking and choosing because we are immersed in time; to God it is foreknowledge of the paths we will walk, because to Him, it all happens "at once".
So, why is how I see it right and the rigid perspective of "predestination" not so? One verse that the theologians of this bent fail to bring up is 2 Peter 9...
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.
"Not willing that ANY should perish"- but He knows that there are some who will refuse to hear. In my opinion, when we subscribe to traditional predestination, we are absolving man of responsibility in his judgement- again. I want you to look with me at the Parable of the Sower once again- from a slightly different angle:
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (From Matthew)
Okay, we all know the basic framework here. Some of mankind have it stripped away because they were hard and would not hear. Some heard for a moment, but never took it INSIDE them. Some were more concerned with the fleshly world. And some it grew and bears fruit. Now you might say, "But read a little further, Chris:"
(From Mark) 10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that,
“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’[a]”
"So you see, some people never GET to hear!" God thus would be unfair, if that were true. But it's NOT what Jesus said. It presupposes that GOD put them on the outside, not they themselves. Go back to the parable. What is the one thing that the the "path", the "rocky places", the "thorny areas", and the "fertile ground" all had in common?
14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
The point being, God sowed seed EVERYWHERE. Whether it grew there, thrived there, or not. How many of you have seen plants grow threw a path, through a sidewalk? The opportunity is THERE. Now, God knows that the outcome of a seed under a sidewalk is grim, but every now and then, one of them is in just the right spot; He blesses it, and up it comes. Still, the farmer knows that He likely won't get much of a crop out of that handful that got left on the pavement.
So is God unfair? Why bother to sow where something has no chance? Why even make people who have no chance? Why not just pull them up right then, sweep them off the rocky path? Because every now and then, that flower comes up between the cracks, and God isn't willing that ANY should perish.