Thursday, August 26, 2010

What the Hell?

Hell is not a popular topic today, is it? I shudder at having to write about it because it's not very politically correct. But considering how many times Jesus talked about the reality of Hell, it’s probably something we should at least consider. There are at least 15 passages of scripture where Jesus mentions the concept of Hell, and all are instances that propose that Hell is the basically the antithesis of Heaven. The result of rejecting God and a place of final judgment and punishment. None of the illustrations make Hell sound like a good place to be. In fact, in many of Jesus’ Hell illustrations, He uses the term “Gehenna”, which was Jerusalem’s garbage dump, just south of the city. It was a place that was kept constantly burning in order to destroy the huge amounts of refuse accumulated every day. It was also full of animal carcasses and human remains from Pagan sacrifices, including children. Not a nice place, to say the least!

The most common objection I hear in response to Hell’s existence is, “Why would a loving God allow the reality of Hell? Why would He send any of His beloved creation to such a horrible place?” My thoughts have often drifted to ponder this question myself. And my conclusion and response has become very simplistic: He doesn’t. Now, before you accuse me of denying the existence of Hell, allow me to explain. I believe that Hell is a very real place. Just as real as Heaven and the world around us, Hell is a reality that unfortunately is the final destination for some people that walk this earth. But my point is this: I don’t believe that God “sends” anyone to Hell. Those that end up facing eternity in Hell, end up there by their own choice. So, am I saying that people actually “decide” to hang out in Hell forever, without any chance of parole? Well, maybe not intentionally, but yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Why? Because God is a “just” God.

So, what does God’s justice really mean? Well, basically, God is fair. Those that choose to believe in Him and do their best to follow His guidelines of life, get to spend eternity with Him, and those that reject Him for a lifetime, get more of the same in a place completely absent of Him. Now, I know what you’re thinking at this point. Sounds pretty narrow minded and judgmental, right? Well, I’m not God and thankfully, I’m not the judge. But if we are going to attribute perfect love and acceptance to the God of the universe, then we probably have to attribute the fact that He is completely “just” as well. If not, He would be a flaky deity and no different than many of the inconsistent Christians that claim to be His followers. I would be more apt to give Him more credit than that, wouldn’t you? Especially if it was compared to me and my spiritual walk.

But, here’s the point. I don’t believe for one second that God “sends” anyone to Hell. Obviously, people end up there, but I don’t think God waves a wand of judgment and, “poof”, you’re in Hell! “Mwahhahaha! Suck on that, you worthless sinner! Sorry! Too late! Can’t hang in Heaven! Even if ya beg!”

To sum it up; yes. I do believe in the existence of Hell. But I do not, for one second, believe that God is in the habit of aggressively looking for people to send to Hell. He’s not actively looking for loopholes so He can put another name in His “Sent to Hell” log. Instead, I believe that we serve a living and loving God, that is constantly looking for any reason possible to bring people into the eternal reality of Heaven. And this same God weeps when anyone faces the reality of Hell, because we were not created for Hell in the first place.

I believe that God is banging on the door of each and every heart, screaming to the recesses of our souls of His reality and that eternity with Him is more real that the temporary world around us. “This is your home! This is what you were created for! This is the way! Walk in it!”

Gehenna references: Matt.5:22, Matt.5:29, Matt.5:30, Matt.10:28, Matt.18:9, Matt.23:15, Matt.23:33, Matt. 9:43, Mark 9:45, Mark 9:47, Luke 12:5, James 3:6.

No comments: