There’s a book that’s been causing a stir among Christians. I haven’t read it. I only saw a video, which I admit was intriguing enough that I might read it. I assume from the hoopla around “Love Wins” that Rob Bell says there's no hell. Hmmm… that’s a bit much for me. Hell is mentioned too many times in the Bible for me to dismiss it (Sheol, Hades, Gehenna) and I’m not convinced that it can be explained away.
Luke 16:22 was always the most meaningful (read: scary) to me, and it’s definitely a warning, so, no, I can’t say there’s no hell: The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ (Read the whole passage in context: Luke 16:19-31)
(Personally, I feel that God will NOT force ANYONE into hell. I believe people will go there willingly rather than submit to Him. How many people, or who they are? I have no idea.)
But I do feel that there’s too much emphasis on hell in some churches, and not enough emphasis on LOVE. Jesus talked about love and forgiveness an awful lot. He went out of his way to talk to sinners. (Some of them were real lowlifes, too.)
Jesus doesn’t WANT people in hell. He wants us to turn to him. Maybe instead of digging in their heels, Christians who have gone to the other extreme (Fear of hell as a motivator) could use this as a chance to talk. Why would a Christian write a book like this? (Kneejerk reaction: The devil got ‘im. He’s going to … well… you-know-where.)
Are there any other possible reasons? Could some Christians be doing it wrong? Could condemning people without really knowing them be an un-Christian *gasp* thing to do? Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well and offered her living water... in short, Himself. He knew she had slept around and was “shacking up” even as he spoke to her. She was a sinner. Did he say, “Well, you’re a loss. You’re going to hell.” No. He offered her living water, (she accepted!) then he sent her to tell others.
Jesus’ followers didn’t always like it when he favored “sinners” over them. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying that he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. Luke 19:7 As Christians, we shouldn’t be smug. Those of us who live righteously are not the only ones who will be in heaven. In fact, some of us may not get there at all! For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Galatians 3:10
Let’s not be greedy and keep Jesus to our near-perfect selves. The road is narrow, yes, but everyone is allowed on it. Even “prodigal sons.” His brother wasn’t too happy either. …The older brother became angry and refused to go in. Luke 15:28 (Read it in context: Luke 15:11-32)
I’ve heard that the comment that started this whole can-of-worms was a note that read something like “Gandhi is in hell.” Does this person know that? Is it his or her place to say??? One of Gandhi's more famous sayings was, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mohandas Gandhi was turned away – turned away!!! – at the door of a church. How does that fit into your definition God’s love?
Supposedly, the last word Gandhi said after being shot was “God.” Who knows he wasn’t uttering a prayer to our Christ in his last breath? I don’t.
Peace, Love, Seek, and Knock