Someone turned up on my Google+ profile one day and said I was her hero, because of a comment I’d made on someone else’s post – a comment she liked, and thought was quite clever. Just over two weeks later, she uncircled me in disdain. Why? Because I said something she didn’t like. I mentioned hell, you see, and she thinks it’s a man-made concept and a pretty horrible one.
I agree it’s horrible.
That’s why I feel I have a duty to warn people about it. Because I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
It’s funny how people accuse me of believing this stuff because it’s comforting… It’s far from comforting to think that my own mother, unless she changed her mind about Jesus at the last minute, is in hell for eternity. I loved my mother. It would be a lot more pleasant for me if I could believe in the myths that so many believe in, including that woman who uncircled me – the myths that say: you have nothing to worry about, there’s no such thing as hell, we all go to heaven when we die, or when we die that’s the end of the story and there’s no afterlife…
You who refuse to accept your absolute need of salvation through Jesus, you who hang on to a hope you have no evidence for, the hope that hell isn’t real… you are the ones holding on to an unsubstantiated belief just because it’s comforting.
Me, I’m just a voice crying out, trying to warn people of their need of salvation and to point them to the one and only source of real hope – Jesus, the one who died so that we can avoid the hell that we deserve.
Sure, I’d be more popular if I sold you the much more appealing stories of a deity that doesn’t mind what you do because he’s some kind of soft and cuddly Father Christmas type… If I was willing to just tell people what they want to hear, I’d have a lot less people storm off saying “you’ve lost me”…
But I can’t. I don’t have the authority to change the story. It’s God – the creator of the universe and all that’s in it – who gets to call the shots. He is the one who decides what happens to us when we die. And he has told us. The Bible has plenty of references to hell – and for those of you who like to think that God’s wrath is just an Old Testament concept and that in the New Testament we have Mr Nice Guy Jesus, I’d invite you to do a little Bible study – Jesus talks quite a lot about the place of eternal torment, of wailing and gnashing of teeth, etc. And he definitely sounds like he means it!
The Gospel of Jesus is good news: through the death and resurrection of Christ, we can have atonement for our sins, a new life knowing God’s love, relating to God intimately – and yes, receiving his comfort in so many ways! – and 100% assurance that when we die, we get to spend eternity in the best possible place, in the best company, instead of being tormented in hell forever.
If the alternative wasn’t so terrible, the good news wouldn’t be so amazingly good. And I definitely wouldn’t feel such an urgency about telling people.
It would be really nice if I could tell you a different story, a nice bedtime story that would send you to sleep with a smile on your face. But since I’m not the one in charge, I have a duty to be faithful to what God has said. And if I lose some people as a result – so be it. I’d rather lose some because I told them the truth than be more popular and let you all stay on the road to hell without trying to warn you.
If you want soppy platitudes and fluffy bunnies, you’ve come to the wrong place.
All I can offer you is Jesus – the way, the truth and the life.