One of the things we talked about was how to help the people of El Callejon understand that just saying they believe isn’t enough. The Spiritual fruit in our lives is evidence that we have a living faith. If all we do is echo the words, and then continue living in the same sin-filled ways, are we really dead to our sin and alive in Christ?What doesn’t seem to work is simply saying, Because the Bible says so. That got us talking about what the Bible says about sin and consequences. It’s not as simple as it seems, however, because there are people who do lots of bad things who don’t seem to suffer. Others try to live according to God’s Word and never catch a break.
That moved our conversation to eternal consequences; telling people if they don’t live according to God’s will here on earth, they will be condemned for all eternity.
I expressed an opinion that I don’t feel trying to scare people with Hell is effective. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely believe that Hell exists. I believe that it is utter separation from God.
But, to me, the Good News is not that if I believe I avoid Hell, but that I get to spend eternity with Jesus. The difference is we’re not just moving away from one very bad consequence, but moving toward one very very good one.I may be completely off-base here. It wouldn’t be the first time! But, I believe the power of the Gospel is not in scaring people into acting better. To me, the power is that even though we are utterly desolate and doomed, through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice, we are able to be transformed.
Not simply live free of Hell, but live in the glorious presence of our Savior. It’s not just that we won’t suffer, it’s that all our tears will be wiped away. Hell is real, but so is Heaven!
So, how do we help people in this? I’m still not completely sure! I think about my own life, and when Jesus became ‘real’ to me. It wasn’t that I started living for Him because I was scared of Hell.
Instead, it grew out of my deepening relationship with Jesus. As I spent more time learning about Him, reading His Word, hanging out with others trying to live for Him, my desire to be with Him grew.I can honestly say, even if there isn’t a Hell (which I firmly believe there is!), I would want to live for Christ. Not because I’m so pious or good. (Seriously, it’s discouraging how awful I am!) But, because I want to spend eternity with Jesus. He moved me from a place of isolation and misery, to life in Him.
I desire that His Father’s glory is shouted throughout the nations. Not to keep me from Hell, but because He alone is worthy of every bit of me.
I don’t want the people of El Callejon to simply avoid Hell, but to live in the fullness of life in Christ. Not just for eternity, (as awesome as that is going to be!) but that even now, God’s kingdom can break in and begin transforming their lives here on earth.I need to continue chewing on this. The more I sit here pondering, the bigger it all is getting. But, that’s okay. It’s worth wrestling with it. It’s worth it because Jesus became flesh and lived with us. His earthly ministry gave us glimpses of His Father’s kingdom, when the stranglehold of Satan will be forever shattered.
Jesus was separated from God on Calvary so that we never have to be. It’s so incredible! No matter what I may be called on to suffer for Him here, it’s worth it. It’s worth it to be a part of His work.
It’s worth it because even now, I get to live in and through Him. Dimly now, but one day face-to-face! To me, that’s more than just keeping out of Hell. That truly is Heaven!