I’m hoping to have enough material in my heart and brain for a regular series of faith-related issues. I’m not expecting to change any minds through persuasive words, because I honestly don’t think I have that talent. I do, however, think it’s important to know for each person to know what he/she believes, and stating it is an essential step. If I can’t explain what I believe, I need to study the subject a little more!
The first topic to come to mind is hell. Do I think it exists, in what form and who goes there, etc. And I don’t think it would be covered completely without talking about Heaven as well. (Notice that except for inclusion in a title, I tend to give the word “hell” the lower-case treatment while Heaven is so much bigger and more important to me that it’s capitalised. You can probably tell which way I lean just there, but let’s continue anyway.)
I don’t want to oversimplify the world, but I do appreciate it when a definition can be put in simple terms first. Here’s the simple truth of hell, in my opinion: Hell is separation from God.
No fire and brimstone, chains and torment? I don’t know, but I do think that the worst of hell is that you are not in God’s presence. And why is that such a big deal? Let’s think of Heaven, and it should become clearer.
Simple terms again: Heaven is to be with God. I could picture all manner of wonderful things about Heaven, including all the past and present saints/heroes/ordinary folk to hobnob with, no fatigue and the absence of all ailments; but the best of all is that I’m right there with God, nothing coming between us. There’s no limit to the time spent with Him, no other demands on my time and nothing can ever separate me from Him again. I suppose it’s a little like the bride-to-be dreaming of life after the wedding, never having to part from her true love again. God is the true love and on this side of death, we’re waiting for the day when our lives are joined together.
(If I continue the true love analogy, it might seem difficult to understand why a person wouldn’t just pick God and Heaven. Who gives up their chance for true love? I’ll probably cover it in more than one future blog post, but for now I postulate – lovely, sophisticated word, isn’t it? – that the likely answer is that we haven’t fallen in love with Him, so we’d rather be on our own than with Someone we don’t love.)
Something very important to note: When I was young, I chose to believe in the Christian way of life because I wanted to avoid hell. Fear of a horrible afterlife might get you into Christianity, but it isn’t going to take you far. I know that one from experience. There needs to be more to it than the “sinner’s prayer.” I’m not in this just to avoid hell or just to gain Heaven; I’m in it for the journey of life and the relationship with God. And I get glimpses of Heaven when there is communication with God, evidence of His hand in my life, and understanding of His personality. How much greater will it be when we’re face to face!
Blessings list additions:
– clean floors
– no bills in the mailbox
– soothing, inspiring music