A Prayer: So Damn Inclusive

I want to pray honestly, transparently. This is an attempt. Also, here’s the article by Volf I reference in the prayer below:

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Lord, why is heaven so damn inclusive? Being honest here: this tends to piss me off.

I just read a book about Vietnam. What a horror. The book depicted a massacre of one village that US soldiers believed sheltered VC. One scene is scared in my memory: an old man, member of the village, is dragged out of his hut and beaten by two soldiers. Then they light him on fire and throw him down a well.

Are you really going to tell me there’s room in heaven for those two soldiers?

(The irony, oh God, is that I often pray with equal indignation: “you say you are a good God! And yet you would damn a person to hell?!” How inconsistently self-righteous I am!)

I recall, oh God, an article I just read by your servant Miroslav Volf. He reminded me that I am believer in your redemptive grace so I must prepare myself to see my enemies in heaven. And not just to see them but to be reconciled to them.

Which is all fine and dandy for me, a white male living in America. I have few enemies beyond the jerk in a Jaguar who just cut me off in traffic. But you’re telling me that I might see that old Vietnamese man hugging those two soldiers, his murderers?

Karl Barth said that we must study theology in one hand and hold a newspaper in the other. How can I possibly do this and fall in love with your grace? How contrary to my gut desire for retributive justice. If I were to create heaven, if I were standing at the pearly gates, then I would be sure to keep out the bigots, killers, the hateful, molesters, rapists, and certainly those two soldiers (and certainly the self-righteous, white males!).

And so, Lord, I confess today that I have no real grace. I have only theoretical grace, but no real, practical, living grace, outside my indignation in critiquing your theoretical lack of grace when you tell us that the journey to salvation follows a narrow road.

Drown me in your grace, that I may be risen in the baptismal waters to a creature who is merciful because he has been shown mercy. Offend me, the same way you pissed off Jonah, with the inconceivable depth of your love. Allow me to rejoice dear God, in the news that heaven is so inclusive that it might include a prideful (indignant, self-involved, self-righteous) wretch like me.

Amen.

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