Hell. Yes. I said it. Hell.
When the Rob Bell book "Love Wins" came out, I was thrilled. I'm a Rob Bell junkie. I bought the book but admittedly I've only gotten halfway through. I lost my steam amongst the shuffle of my other 30 summer reads and have not resurrected it since March. But, the book did resurrect a long dead topic in my mind to explore. Hell.
Don't get me wrong, I've thought of Hell. I've said Hell. I've awoken in the middle of the night pleading for my soul to not go there...but I don't fully understand Hell. I know being raised in a very orthodox, fundamentalist Christian background really affected my viewpoint of the eternal damnation of my soul...but it also affected the relationship of my soul.
Hell...all this talk of hell has really stirred me to solidify my own thoughts and beliefs on eternity. Where do I stand and how can I avoid going there? Thus leading me to pre-order Francis Chan's new book "Erasing Hell". I'm only one chapter into the book and I was oddly struck with an epiphany. Out of nowhere but totally concrete.
In the first chapter, Chan lays the groundwork for the Universalist viewpoints on eternal consequences and hell. As I read this chapter, I read about the fact that Universalists believe (differing viewpoints with differing Universalists of course) at some point all humanity will be saved. Here comes the epiphany...wait for it...wait for it...I was heartbroken.
I realized in that moment why so many people I've grown up with have lost their faith, their minds, and the greatest gift we should have all possessed; their relationship with God. We were raised on HELL. We were raised on fear of a God that would squash us, fry us, and leave us at the beginning of all sin.
Now, for the record, I DO believe God is just. I believe He is vengeful, and I believe He requires a price for sin. However, I do NOT believe that He created us to dangle over hell. Thus, why so many of my childhood friends are lost, drifting, addicted, lonely souls. There was no relationship for us.
We did A, B, C, D...yet we did not KNOW God. How very very sad this made me to realize...
If we had been raised to be "in love" with this big, bright beautiful God...we wouldn't have cared less about hell. Now hear me out...
If we were in love with God and had been taught how to live out faith very authentically, we would never have thought twice about leaving Him.
When you're in love, you literally count the moments till you hear your lover's voice...
When you're in love, you will do anything and everything to make your lover smile...not because you are afraid they wont...but because you enjoy the beauty of their smile.
When you're in love, you don't spend your time with that person because you're afraid if you don't you'll lose leverage (again "in love" not "in a relationship that you are in but could care less")...No, you spend time because you cannot stand the thought of not being with this soul...this amazing gift you've been
When you're in love, you cannot stand the thought of ever doing any action or word that would mean hurt or harm to your lover...
Same with God.
When I really truly fell in love with God. My whole world changed. I must admit...it was in the last few years. But it happened. And guess what? The VERY last thought I was thinking as I surrendered my life to Him...to live with Him...was hell. I wanted...HIM. I needed...HIM. I desired...HIM.
I treasured my relationship with Him above anything. I would NEVER want to jeopardize not being able to share intimate moments with Him. Nothing is worth losing my relationship with my Lover Jesus.
I wasn't trying to get out of hell free...I was trying to fall in love with the ultimate lover. I tried. I did. I fell hard.
Then...this ultimate lover...began leading me to deeper waters. He led me to more intimate topics. Such as...eternity...
Isn't that the way love goes? You start with the small "get to know you's." Then progress to the "hey, what about forever's?" It's a process. A learning. A trust.
My point is: Let us not lose anymore amazing human souls. Let's disciple to Love Him. First. Period. Foremost. Forever. Hell is not the starting point because when it is...I fear it becomes the ending point.
Rob Bell was right about one thing "Love Wins." Let's love. Let's disciple. Let's allow God to free people from their hurts, sufferings and loneliness. In the loving and freeing...God saves them for eternity.
If we do B before A...they're lost. In a literal sense...clueless on how to live out life with God because their running scared. Who wants to serve a God who is represented to you with flames and judgement?
Love Wins. Hell won't if we get them in that order.
Grace n Peace,
I love my heritage. I love my parents. I love what they instilled in me. Don't take this to mean I am downing the faith that made me who I am. I'm grateful for EVERYTHING I learned about God as a child.
I believe in Hell. I am not diffinitive in my conclusive views yet but I believe. I believe in the judgement and justice of God. I am also not diffinitive in how those two attributes work within Him. But the good news is...I don't have to be...He is God. I trust Him.