I don't believe everyone will be saved because I believe in free will. The gift of free will comes with quite a few responsibilities. One of these responsibilities is the ability to make the choices in this life necessary to either accept or reject God's call to holiness...and accept the consequences that come with the acceptance or rejection. With that said, I believe it is possible for people to reject God's call to holiness. However, I do believe in universal reconciliation in the sense that it is POSSIBLE for anyone to accept the call to holiness and be saved. I believe that salvation is a possibility for everyone...regardless of faith or lack of faith.
God knows your heart. He knows your struggles as well as your triumphs. He knows your doubts as well as your convictions. He knows your fears and weaknesses. He knows your strengths. He knows your failures as well as your successes. He knows you are not perfect. He knows your intentions. He knows your regrets.
He loves you anyway.
He wants you anyway.
When you fail to love, forgive, be selfless, etc. you are essentially turning your back on God's invitation towards sainthood. You are turning your back on God. Do this enough times and the decision to turn your back on God becomes a permanent one. There are not take-backs if you end up in Hell. Still, I believe there are many chances to return to God whenever someone turns away from God. In my opinion, there's a reason behind all those deathbed confessions and conversions we tend to hear about. I don't think it is fear of Hell as much as it a final realization of the love we have for God and...more importantly, the love He has for us.
I'm of the boat of people that believe that one soul in Hell is already too many for God. We certainly have a lot going against us when it comes to temptation and sin. God gets it, He loves us, and He is merciful. With all of this said, He forgives. You may not be the least sinful person out there, but He loves you and wants to forgive you. He wants you to turn from sin and He wants you to love. Fortunately for us, the way out of sin is love.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.- 1Peter 4:8
A few weeks ago, I came across a comic that pretty much sums up how I envision God, heaven, and God's paternal love. This comic may be treated as a universalist piece (as you can see in some of the comments on the thread associated with the image on CatholicGag)...but I think it is more of a universal reconciliation piece. Everyone can be saved...it is simply a question of whether a particular person can accept God's call to holiness. Essentially, using this comic as a reference, everybody who wants to come to God's dinner will be there. God will not force anyone to come to dinner if they do not want to be there.
|Image Credit: CatholicGag|
This comic brought such a nice sentiment to my heart when I saw it because it depicted God as the loving Father I believe Him to be. It also kind of reminded me of Pope Francis. Pope Francis seems to be getting some negative attention from certain circles for his emphasis on love and mercy...and lack of emphasis on (insert particular topic here). However, when you really think about it...all virtues start with love. All good causes begin with love. If the world loved as God intended the world to love, we would not have to worry about abortion, religious persecution, income inequality, immigration, etc. That is not to say that these issues aren't important. They certainly are.
However, the root to all of the issues and disorders of this world is a lack of love. If we truly loved, we would provide for desperately poor women who feel that they cannot provide for the child in their womb. If we truly loved, we would love one another regardless of religious differences. If we truly loved, we would not permit laws and practices that take advantage of the poor. If we truly loved, nations would protect and care for people regardless of where they were born. Pope Francis seems to get to the root of the problem in his addresses and calls for us to protect and care for the poor and most marginalized people. His actions are those of one who seeks to destroy sin with love...simple acts of love and great ones. His actions are those of one who has heard the call to holiness. His actions are those of one who is called to bring people to God through love.
The love Pope Francis proclaims is the same love I saw in this comic. I did some searching and found Jim Benton to be the artist behind the comic. However, I still don't know whether universal reconciliation was the message intended. Even so, that was the message I got out of this comic and this message is one of love. A love that calls all prodigal children back to their father. A love that is open to anyone, regardless of faith. A love with the potential to eradicate the evils of this world if more people possessed it and acted upon it.