Struggling with Hell

Hell is a really tough one for me and tough to talk about with others. Hell is tragic. I’ve recently read 2 books on the topic that were very helpful to me:

– Erasing hell
– 23 questions about hell

One thing that I continually come back to when I think about this topic is that God is infinitely good and just (Deut 32:4, Gen 18:25, Nahum 1:7). He will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31). No one will be able to say that they were treated unfairly. No one will be able to say that they “knocked on the door, but He didn’t answer”. Jesus said whoever comes to Him, He will never drive away (John 6:37). So, the point that I come away with Biblically is that God will do what is right, I don’t have to worry about that or second guess Him.

Additionally, I think there are some very good philosophical arguments and analogies that can be used to help us understand why hell makes sense. One that has been particularly helpful for me is this:

Heaven is God’s house. If you want to move into God’s house forever, you need to know Him and love Him. Can you imagine if you went up to the front door of the biggest mansion in your town with your family and all your luggage and belongings and knocked on the door and (not knowing the owners) said, “Hi, I would like to move in with you”. The owner would certainly ask why and/or what are you talking about? Imagine that you would then reply “Because I’m a good person.” That owner of the house would likely say, “Sorry, you can’t move in with me… I don’t even know you!” The same is true with God. If you’ve lived your whole life (as a “good person” – compared with other people) but attempting to ignore Him and pretend like he doesn’t exist or He doesn’t matter and is irrelevant, even though He’s the one Who gave you life and made the world that you live in, and you get to the end of your life and knock on His door and ask to move in with Him for eternity, He’s going to say “I never knew you. Away from me you evildoer” (Mat 7:23). Heaven is where God’s family will live with Him for eternity. If you’re not in God’s family, you really have no business asking God to move into His house forever. If you wanted nothing to do with God for your whole life, God will grant you that desire for all eternity. The problem is that most people don’t realize that every good thing we have here on earth is from God (James 1:17). So, being without God means being without the good things that come from Him. Hell is separation from God (2 Thess 1:9) and thus from everything that is good.

Wearing a cross around my neck? Why?

I just had an interesting thought about the cross I wear around my neck every day. I was thinking about why I wear it and whether it might be considered a form of idolatry. It definitely is not and here is why. The cross I wear around my neck functions exactly like a wedding ring. In the same way that I don’t worship the wedding ring or cherish the physical object of the wedding ring but rather the person it reminds me of, neither do I cherish the cross because of how it looks or because of the cross itself. Rather, the cross reminds both me AND others Who it is that I belong to, Who I’m committed to, that I’m “already taken” – I’m “off the market”. It helps me remember that I must not be unfaithful to the One I’ve promised to be faithful to. And it gives others the right to “call out” any of my behavior that is unbecoming of one who is married to Christ. In the same way that if a neighbor of mine saw me entering a house of prostitution, they would certainly be justified in calling out my behavior as an unfaithful husband. Because they know I’m promised to my wife and I’m being unfaithful. So too, if the people where I work hear me spewing out profanity or gossiping behind the back of a co-worker or stealing from the company, it would be clear to them that one who wears the cross is not being faithful to the One who died on the cross. It is so clear to me.

There is a song by Randy Travis called “On the Other Hand”, which talks about a man that is considering entering an adulterous relationship, but it is the ring that is on his hand that reminds him of his spouse and prevents him from doing it. Here is a key line from the song:

“But on the other hand, There’s a golden band… To remind me of someone who would not understand”

Its the same thing with the cross. We as Christians are promised to Christ for a life-time and for eternity. When we sin, we are being unfaithful to Him.