This Should Disturb you
I have written on here about heaven. How the people in heaven will not be perfect but saved sinners. No one in heaven will be without a past. Every saint has a past and every sinner a future.
I have written on here about how much I need a savior that on my own I cannot get it done. I need Jesus and I also need a community shaped by the gospel of Jesus. I am so glad to have both.
What I have failed to write about is hell. I avoid the words hell and sin, for a reason. They disturb me and they should disturb you. Hell is fun to talk about and contemplating who will be there is not a conversation starter. It’s a dead ender. You might be conversing with a friend and when you say hell or mention it, even in passing everything halts.
Hell is a roadblock.
I am going to spend some time talking about it. You may click away at anytime.
Theologically, Hell is a place of punishment after death. Hell in the strict sense is the place of punishment for the damned. It is commonly thought that God sends people to hell or those who don’t accept Christ are sent there. I will shortly talk about that, but at the moment I want you simply to know that hell is a place, a place of darkness and despair. We have many images for this place. I will not go into them here. Simply to say it is a bad place.
Some have claimed and rightly so that life is or can be hell or that you can be going through hell. Whether it be abuse from others or self-inflicted, we can suffer horrible things. While it can be said that in the cross God is saying me too when it comes to pain, despair, and bleakness. A creedal statement says that Jesus went into hell during the three days in the tomb. This is not to diminish anyones trauma, but to say that others have went through it and as they have come out the other side, so can they. There is light at the end of the dark tunnel.
There was a time when I disavowed hell. When I wrongly claimed it was a man-made place to control others and while there is truth to that statement. The church has used it keep people towing the line that doesn’t make hell not real. Hell is all too real. Hell is a place.
It disturbs me. What disturbs me even more is the glib response some Christians have and the joy they seem to pronounce hell as a destination for those who don’t follow their teachings. Some, I will not name them in their writings and talks seem almost gleeful that some will be spending eternity in hell. That disturbs me.
I even saw a Youtube video with a well-known pastor/writer who was speaking about this subject in a Buddhist garden while Buddhist monks were offering their prayers. He said that they were going to hell. Yet, he found it more beneficial to speak to a lifeless camera than with those monks.
If we really believe that people will be going to hell than we should be pounding the pavement and preaching Christ and not glorifying in our status as saved sinners. If what you might say or better do would save one person from hell and you don’t do it than you deserve to go to hell yourself.
Was that too harsh?
The bible constantly advises that what happens in the future, 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 abstractness only your actions.
This leads us to the perennial question 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.
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 am still uncomfortable about hell and saying people may be there.
I want to follow Jesus and trust that God will take care of the rest. Trust that God loves all (and all means all) and that God’s grace is sufficient for all of our needs.