Thursday, May 29, 2008

hell who?

You hear about the fear of hell kind of off and on in Christian circles.

I read an article months about wherein one of the pastors at a church out west was sharing how he came to "salvation." He commented that, "fear is a perfectly legitimate way to enter the kingdom of God." I remember thinking that's probably true.

Last night during the midweek sermon, Pastor was talking about that battle people go through at the point of making a decision to follow Christ. On the one hand are lots of things: your friends think you're an idiot; you have to change things about your life; your mum will think you've joined the IRA (I didn't have that problem myself). On the other hand was one thing: you could go to hell. I remember wondering what that balance would look like.

This morning I read this. I imagine the "perceived immediate benefit" is either a prosperity gospel or the avoidance of hell.

Before I said Yes to Holy Spirit's nagging, I didn't believe in hell. Christians could read scripture and "testimonies" of hell until they were blue in the face and I'd still curse God just to prove it didn't bother me. You can't really scare someone about something they don't believe in.

So I started to think about that period of a few months leading up to my rebirth. If it wasn't the fear of eternal damnation, what was it?

Aside from the obvious-to-the-Christians answers like hearing the word of God via CDs this weird guy kept bringing me, and abundant prayer being offered up on my behalf, do you know what it was?

The Passion of the Christ.

Seriously. Yes, the Mel Gibson movie. My mom and I went with said weird guy and his weird church to a screening in Crystal Lake, and I left the theater with this weighty decision on my mind (spirit). I couldn't care less about hell, but I needed to know if what I saw in that movie was true. It was suddenly so grave.

I didn't even realize what I was going through until about a week later at a show at my favorite punk house. I wasn't drinking, which sparked a conversation. This one particular guy - whom everyone very much admired - was running through every anti-woman thing he knew about Christianity and the Bible. About the time he got to "Did you know the Bible says that women aren't supposed to talk in church?" I realized my dilemma.

"That's not it, Eric. I'm not trying to decide whether or not I agree with it, it's whether or not it's true."

If it was true, then I was wrong and I could fix that. It would be painful, but not as painful as what I'd seen. If that Man really did take my place then I owed Him something.

Maybe I'm the only one who finds this interesting - or maybe you love someone who doesn't care about threats of hell. Here's my advice: Truth sets people free, not fear.


God's Love Changed Everything said...

It was the same scene painted for me- a man who took my place, died for me, that rescued me from hell. It wasn't fear; it was His love.
And if He laid down His life for me, than I would lay down my life for Him.

And only now am I truly drinking in the sweetness of His love again.

When we share the Good News of Jesus with someone and they aren't ready to receive it, we can be tempted to throw in the deadly catch at the end- hell. But what does that really prove about us? That we don't think God's love will convince them.

Someday it will.
We just need to believe.

KnowYourGod said...

this is the most prolific thing i have seen you write, the holy spirit really bore witness when i read this, I just posted a blog BEFORE reading yours that you may find interesting. Perhaps the Lord is revealing something from heaven to us, perhaps we have been entrusted with something from on high? Also like i have mentioned many times before, you should more seriously take steps toward becoming a writer. I have this sense in my spirit about a headline concerning you that says " Lexikate, established and accomplished author bridges religious gaps between churched and unchurched through her witty, and deeply passionate writings."

mike i. said...

I was loved into the kingdom. I barely understood consequences; hell was a cuss word. I knew the spirit world was real, and that the spirit I was into was making me depressed; real bad. Friends and family were changing because of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I had nothing to lose. I don't remember being afraid of hell though.

Loretta said...

I think that I was more afraid of GOD. I got so far away from GOD and so lost in sin that I began to actually feel and smell death around me. But when I cried out in despair and GOD began to move things around so dramatically, I realized that He was the thing to be feared. Where can you run? Where can you hide? He's after us. We belong to Him.