“I just can’t believe in a God that sends people to hell.” she said.
It makes me sad to see God so misunderstood, but I hear it often as a reason for why people reject God, the church, and the entire Christian faith. Friends, God does not send anyone to hell. In fact, the gates to heaven stand wide open for any soul that can stand it.
But the plain fact is that there are some people who just can’t stand God. They want nothing of him in this life, and so God will not force himself upon them in the next.
God doesn’t send people to hell, he doesn’t desire that any would perish. Instead, he gives us what we ultimately want. He gives us what we desire in our hearts during our years on earth.
Do we want a life with him in it? Or a life without?
Isn’t it foolishness to imagine that we could despise and reject God all this life, only to have him force his intimate presence on us in the next?
If we don’t want God’s presence here and now, if we want to be left to our own devices while on earth, we will absolutely not want to wind up in heaven. Why? Because heaven is an eternity spent discovering ever more the God we loved while we still had breath!
Heaven starts now. Hell starts now.
Imagine a land without tenderness, light, or beauty. Think of a city where justice is a joke, where there is no push-back to violence, no new creation, no new birth, no healing. Consider a community where there will be no rescue or relief from the wicked impulses of man.
We have earthly images of hell in front of us every day; filthy clinics, dead babies, and damaged women. We see rape used as power, flies buzzing around festering wounds, children sold into slavery or languishing in orphanages, never to know the love of a family.
This is indeed hell on earth.
And yet, there is also heaven on earth. God’s kingdom has already come, and his spirit is active. It is from God alone that all goodness and beauty flows, now and forever. Kindness, sacrifice, dignity, joy, delight – it all originates from the same place – and without God in the picture, this goodness dries up fast: and it’s hell.
Life devoid of God is hell, whether it’s now or later.
So let’s be honest and fair, saints. God is intent on saving, not condemning. Heaven and hell are both God’s provision for what we ultimately want. He pursues us to all ends of the earth so we would know Him rightly, and want to be with him forever.
Do you know who God really is? Do you find him beautiful, or spiteful? Do you have hope in this life, or dread? Can you find the joy in your circumstances, because you have put your trust in the Author of all good?
If so, you are already a citizen of heaven, and will be forever.
So give ’em heaven, saints! Radiate hope and beauty, and go out boldly into the world.
“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”