I’ve been reading this week reasons why people don’t believe in hell. The most cited reason: I can’t see how a loving God would send people to hell.
I get that. God, who is the source of love, doesn’t seem to be the kind of being that would send people to eternal punishment. One blogger I read talked about a parent putting themselves on the judgment seat and then punishing their child for wrong doing forever. This blogger concluded no parent would do such a thing (however, I’ve known a few that would). Therefore, the blogger concluded, either he was morally superior to God or Christianity was wrong about hell.
This kind of logic is appealing, but it poses the wrong analogy. What if instead of the parent being on the judgment seat, the parent told the child, “You can never leave me. You must always live in my house. In fact, I will chain you so you will always be in my presence. You can have no thoughts of your own, you can make no choices on your own.” A god who forces people to be with him, to spend eternity with him, turns into a god who makes people dance like puppets. Anybody want to live that life?
For love to be real, for relationship to be genuine, there must be choice. God, in His great wisdom, grants us the freedom to choose to do life with Him. That choice begins on earth and goes beyond death.
All evidence points to God allowing people to make their own choice about relating to Him. This changes our idea about being saved. To be saved is not just to escape hell and go to heaven. To be saved is to choose to follow Jesus all the way to the heaven.
People who choose not to follow Jesus do not go to heaven because they do not want to. The place they go is called hell.
What is hell like? Scripture teaches us is hell is a place of regret. Why? People regret their life choice to live without God.
To live with Jesus is to live forgiven, to live cleansed. Followers of Jesus are the Easter People, the people of hope. People without Jesus are people who live in guilt. They are people who choose to live life without eternal hope.
If all this is true (and I believe it is), it means my life choices here are really important. Choosing Jesus matters. The reality of my commitment is shown by my life choices. It also means other people may choose not to follow Jesus. That should break my heart. There should be no glee when we talk about people going to hell.
At the end of your life, your decision about Jesus matters.
What’s your decision?