Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Why has the reality of hell & heaven dropped off the radar screen?

Most people would rather not talk about hell...and for good reason. Who wants to think of a literal place of eternal suffering for those who do not surrender to Christ? Many do not want to think about heaven either. They have it too good here. They just bought that new car or have dreams of that new house.
The thought of heaven and hell seems too disruptive to our lives. Thinking about either one tends to make us uncomfortable and we are all about comfort, right?
Aren't there many things that are true realities that we do not like to think of? I have a few...April 15th [income tax day] March [my 6 month dental check -up], the necessity of fixing the leaky toilet [& many of you know how much I LOVE plumbing], paying utility bills [it is so much more fun to buy a piece of furniture or a new book], the annual physical [I keep thinking of reasons to postpone the appointment]. Those are all realities. More stark realities include having to make funeral arrangements and making out wills...things we would rather not think of...but nevertheless just as real. God also speaks of realities such as heaven and hell. But we are reluctant to think of these. Some do not believe these places even exist. They take comfort in the fact that if..."I don't believe it, it does not exist." Others refuse to think or believe in these realities because if they are real...then life-changes will be required. They do not know if there is an after life and they are hoping if there is, they will go to the "up" place not the "down" place. There is even a reluctance to use the words "heaven" or "hell." But perhaps the real reasons we are not hearing much about heaven or hell these days may lie in the following:
[1] We are not ready to die ourselves, therefore we will not think about it and hope all will work out well in the end. [2] We have not been faithful in telling others of Christ and so we do not want to think of anyone we know ending up in hell. [3] We do not want to offend people's sensitivities. It makes us sound barbaric, uneducated, not loving. [4] We are too wrapped up in the here & now to think about the glory and joy of heaven or the tragedy and eternal suffering of hell. [5] To us it may seem to negate the "God is love" message, and we don't want to give a picture of God as a judge.
YET...the Bible speaks of both places as very real. Read Luke 16 & Rev. 21-22 and you will see how incredibly real heaven and hell are. Not symbolic icons, but real locations. And the Bible speaks of God as holy as well as love. According to the Bible man is sinful and God means business. That is the reason for the cross. Have you thought lately... about the reality of both places? ...about the reason for the cross? I think we need to speak more of these realities! Think it through!

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