ASKING THE WRONG QUESTION
At church, on Wednesday nights this summer we’ve been studying 1 John.
This letter is demanding and as relevant today as the day it was written.
The study has been challenging, fascinating, refreshing, and insightful. I have been forced to question and confront my easy assumptions and strengthened my faith in Jesus by wrestling with this letter.
This past Wednesday, we came to 1 John 2:18, Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.
This passage alludes to the end of the world and seems to say as many have thought that Jesus’ return is imminent. Since it has been two thousand years since the resurrection, some have used this verse to question Christianity. Yet, in Acts 1:7 Jesus said, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set.”
So, the end of the world is a non-issue. It may happen as I write these words or after I have passed from this world to the next. As Jesus said, it’s not for us to know when. It’s for us to choose the way of Jesus and walk in the light. The bible constantly advises that what happens in the future, at the end of the world or after we die is not as crucial as what happens in this very moment.
The question: Will I be loving in this moment or not?
The answer is not abstract. The reality of your actions will be the answer. You are either loving or not. There is no theoretical knowing only your actions.
This led us to the perennial question that is used to stumble Christians and other faithful.
A question I have wrestled long and hard with, for a while I settled with the cop out of universalism.
Not after last Wednesday, when the senior pastor of my church who was leading the bible study gave an answer that seemed to render my easy answer ineffectual.
The question isn’t why does God send people to hell. That’s the wrong question, because God didn’t do it. I did.
This is a hard answer to accept, because that “I” is applied to all of us not just our religious leaders. Each of us has a choice to make, the choice between love and hate; heaven and hell; good and evil; God and not-God.
The next time I wonder about hell and why people are there I will ask what I did that day to make life harder on others. I chose Jesus not once, but in every moment.
I am still uncomfortable about hell and saying people may be there.
I just want to follow Jesus and trust that God will take care of the rest.