Many people feel that, if God is love, He will love everyone. And, if He loves everyone, He will welcome everyone and treat everyone the same, so everyone will go to heaven no matter what they do.
But Jesus addressed this in Matthew 13 when He tells the following parable:
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while people slept, his enemy came and sowed darnel also among the wheat, and went away. But when the blade sprang up and brought forth fruit, then the darnel appeared also. The servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where did this darnel come from?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and gather them up?’ But he said, No, lest perhaps while you gather up the darnel, you root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and in the harvest time I will tell the reapers, ‘First, gather up the darnel, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn.’ (Matthew 13:24-30)
Darnel is a plant that looks identical to young wheat, as it is a form of grass. But unlike wheat, darnel is harmful and even poisonous, as it is “one of the unfortunate hosts of the complex and multi-harmful ergot fungus” (gardening link about darnel here). This helps make the parable clearer and shows how God’s justice works. The good and bad can be so similar from outward appearances that judging between them at the wrong time (or by the wrong person) could be catastrophic. Still, in the end, only one group goes to the barn.
Despite this, though, God “desires all people to be saved and come to full knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). And 2 Peter 3:9 says that God is “patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” However, the very next verse reminds us that God will not wait forever, for “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…” (2 Peter 3:10). So clearly, love doesn’t mean having equal results and rewards. It includes everyone in opportunity, but it doesn’t guarantee that all will choose to come. Jesus used another parable to explain this in Luke 14:16-24:
“A certain man made a great supper, and he invited many people. He sent out his servant at supper time to tell those who were invited, ‘Come, for everything is ready now.’ They all as one began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please have me excused.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I must go and try them. Please have me excused.’ Another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I can’t come.’ That servant came, and told his lord these things. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor, maimed, blind, and lame.’ The servant said, ‘Lord, it is done as you commanded, and there is still room.’ The lord said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you that none of those men who were invited will taste of my supper.’
This is what heaven is like. God invited a long list (first the Israelites but now the world), and many made excuses, saying they couldn’t be bothered with what God said or wanted for one reason or another. So God went out and issued more invitations, to the unwanted, the unloved, the undesirable…to everyone who could be convinced to come. The invitation was the same for all. The feast was the same for all. But the results varied depending on who made excuses and “called off,” and who accepted and came.
Similarly, in our relationships with others, we can’t include everyone on equal levels of trust and friendship. Some people will respond in a positive, nurturing way, while others might choose to be harmful. We can give both equal opportunity to be a good friend, but eventually, we’ll have to decide enough is enough and draw the line of those who we can be close to and those who are a weed, trying to take over our lives or worse, turn us into a toxic plant like them.
Copyright 2017 Andrea Lundgren