How can God send good people to hell?
Have you ever been asked this question in good faith? How did you respond? Did your answer satisfy the questioner? Did it satisfy you? Did it offer any light to the path that leads to the heart of God?
This is the path to God’s heart: God desires that none should perish. That not one be lost. It’s the longing of God’s heart that every son or daughter he’s fathered into being would be with him in this life and the next.
God’s will is that none would perish, but his love constrains him from forcing himself on anyone. God won’t demand a person’s requited love today or ever. He won’t insist on anyone’s obligatory obedience or loyalty. No, God’s perfect love demands that he respect what makes us gloriously human – our will – which is the shocking God-given freedom to choose heaven (everywhere God is), or hell.
God doesn’t ‘send’ people to hell. Rather, all persons – good, bad, and terrible persons – must decide on whether to live a life with God or apart from him. Think for a moment of what a city, country, or world might look like without any trace of God or his people? What might that place be like for its’ citizens, even the ‘good’ ones? What might that place be called?
Hell is a most wretched place because God and his family aren’t there. Hell is the place of those invited to live with God as their father and who say, “Nah, I’m good.” They have no desire or need to align their will to God or his people.
Hell then, is a place that rebelliously rejects God’s rule. It’s a place for every unyielding and “I know best” soul to do as it wishes. Hell is home to those who prefer to walk in their own way; who trust their own wisdom; follow their own word, and call it good.
Maybe you are wondering this: How do I know for sure that I am a part of God’s family? How do I know that I am a part of God’s household? Must I say a magic prayer? What’s required of me?
Friends, if you really want to be with God, then all you need to do is return to him. He’s watching for you! Turn around from the way you think best and go home. Go stand at your father’s door and knock. But before you do so, ask yourself the following questions:
1. If I choose to be with God, who will have the final, authoritative word in my life? Am I willing to trust his word and walk in his way even if I don’t think it best?
2. Whose voice will I obey even when the commands seem contrary to how I or others think or feel?
3. God has given Jesus, his son, all authority on earth and in heaven. Do I know why God did this? How did that authority come to be? What does this mean for me as I stand at the door and knock?
Brothers and sisters. God’s heart – his divine desire from the beginning – is to be present with the family he has made. Do we want to be with him? Do we want to be a part of his household? Do we enjoy resting in his presence and walking in his way? Do we want to dwell in house forever? This is our life’s most pressing question.
Shalom to you and yours, as you come home and rest in God’s kingdom come.