Yesterday I had the opportunity to preach from Luke chapter 1 about the experience of Zacharias. Zacharias was a descendant of the priestly line of Aaron. So was his wife Elizabeth. They were extremely devout believers. Luke 1:6 tells us that they lived blameless lives before the law, but more than that…they were found righteous in the eyes of the Lord. This means that their beliefs were more than just a religious practice. They earnestly sought and pursued a relationship with God.
But they were old. And Elizabeth was barren. Talk about a slap in the face. In their culture, to be barren was a sign of being cursed and despised by God. It was a sign of sin. I’m sure Zacharias and Elizabeth had many moments of doubt and confusion. I’m sure that they questioned God. Yet still they pursued him. Still they continued to be righteous and blameless.
In this story, Zacharias was serving his bi-annual week long service to the temple. Incense was to be burned every morning and evening in the Holy Place before the curtain to the Holy of Holies. The priests chose by lot who would perform this duty. To be chosen was an honor. With so many priests, it was unlikely that most would ever get the chance. And no one person was ever allowed to do it twice.
The problem of Universalism is complex on the one hand, yet childishly simple at its core. It is convenient because a person can get the most benefit out of the least commitment with this belief. It requires little thought, little action, and serves as an escape clause to anyone who doesn’t want to address important religious implications in their lives. This simplistic non-thought that the average Universalist employs is complex to understand and difficult to overcome. In my opinion it is the most significant and practical Apologetic challenge for Christians.
Several issues exist in the mind of the average Universalist. Even though there are intellectual Universalists, who have considered the implications and have made a more academic choice to hold to this belief, it is of my opinion that they originally came to the idea of Universalism through these very same issues, and that the basic onset of their beliefs was born out of the very same simplistic non-thought of the average Universalist thinker.