The lesson is love and not hell 2
So last week I wrote about my belief that the lesson in Christ is about love and not hell. I explained that I believe that it's inefficient to be a Christian because of the fear of hell. However, I got a little push back on this. Some because I was misunderstood and others because they fully disagreed with me.
Some people thought I was saying that we shouldn't preach the existence of hell and should absolutely discountenance hell and some understood me and still absolutely disagreed with me. Firstly, I want to thank everyone for reading and speaking their beliefs. I think it's absolutely amazing that people are open to speaking and I appreciate everyone's interaction with my blog. Secondly, I just want to say that I'm glad I heard from you guys because I think it's important that we have these discussions. I'm still learning and I believe that we all are, so discussions like this edify us and help us grow.
Disclaimer: this is my belief and opinion, I'm not trying to force it on anyone. So if you learn anything that's great! If you disagree with me, you have every right to and I'm happy to discuss it with you in the comment section. But everything I'm writing, I'm writing with love and in love.
So on the issue of whether I was saying that hell should be totally eradicated and removed from our discussions about God. I want to clearly and succinctly say that it's impossible to remove the lesson of hell from the Bible. It's a part of the gospel and is part of the word of God. I would never discountenance hell because I believe that hell is real. However, I don't focus on hell, instead I focus on God.
Growing up the lesson was that if you lie, you'll go to hell. If you steal, you'll go to hell. If you gossip, you'll go to hell etc. My point is that I always wanted to stay perfect because I didn't want to go to hell. The issue with that was the fact that those years where I was so focussed on not doing certain things because I was afraid of hell, I don't think I grew spiritually at all. There was not one iota of spiritual growth even though I was trying to keep count of the sins I didn't commit.
So while, I will never discountenance hell and I know it exists, I won't focus on it because I believe it has no bearing on me becoming intimate with God. When the Bible says "seek ye first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and all other things shall be added unto you", I read it in so many ways. But in connection to this post, I understand it to mean that I should face God, in facing God and seeking Him and the Kingdom, sin, hell and fear takes a back seat because it's not in front of me.
My favourite Bible verse in the whole world is Philippians 4:8 because it reminds me of pink blossoms. It says; "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." .
This verse has taught me to focus on love, God, obedience, faith, joy, victory, peace, patience and lessons. It's made me focus on growing in Christ. So now my focus isn't on the fear of hell or whether I can tick off the sins I haven't done. Instead I'm focussed on the Holy Spirit and I'm growing. Which means the sins I used to fall into have become a thing of the past because the more I press into knowing and loving God, the more sin and hell become an afterthought for me, the more their power over me diminishes.
So no, I'm not saying ignore the fact that sin or hell exits. Instead I'm saying acknowledge it, but don't let it be your focus point. Don't let it be the first thing that comes out of your mouth when you speak or think about God. Because God is so much more than that, there's so much more to gain in God other than not ending up in hell.
Yes, being with God and becoming born again will save you from hell, but that's not the only reason we should turn to God. Personally, I've found so much joy, love, peace, grace, favour, fun and just overwhelming sweetness in being intimate with God. The air that I breathe is from God. The confidence in the future that awaits me is because I trust God, this means that I actually have no fears or worries about the future.
Just this week, I've seen God hear me and do the sweetest things for me. Outside of all of the things I gain from God, God's nature is just beautiful. I'm in awe of God and all the things that He has ever done and created. How many of us can create something out of nothing with just a word? The love and kindness that I see God show in the Bible drives me to tears sometimes. The number of times that we as humans have rejected Him, turned our backs on Him, despised Him and yet He loves us.
So yes, I believe that there's a hell and I believe that the word of God should be taught in it's entirety, but I don't focus on hell. Even when introducing people to Christ I don't believe that you have to use a scare tactic of saying "you will go to hell if you don't give your life to Christ". It may work for some and sometimes the Holy Spirit may ask you to speak that way, but majorly, I think there's a better way to introduce Jesus to people. He's so much more than a God that saved you from hell.
To those who believe that you have to scare people into giving their life to Christ, I'm sorry I just can't find it in me to agree with you. Again, I know that there are times when the Holy Spirit can direct a person to tell someone that the path they're on will lead them to hell. There are extreme cases and specific cases. However, the gospel of Christ was love. Jesus wasn't trying to scare people into believing in Him. Jesus' gospel is love, so why should our first point of contact be to scare people?
In my personal experience a lot of people have heard about hell. So telling them they're going to hell doesn't faze them because in their mind, it's far away. In some form, we think we have more time and the end is far, death is far, so why do I have to fix up now when hell is far. Not many people believe that they can suddenly die, it happens, but not many people believe that it'll happen to them.
So no, I don't believe we should try to lead with fear. Even God never led His people with fear, He showed His people love but He stayed true to Himself. I said this before and I'll say it again, when you're born again, being motivated by love allows you to achieve so much more in God compared to when you're motivated by fear.
While fear holds some people back, a lot of people overcome and disregard fear, for self and for pleasure. The same way people go bungee jumping, sky diving etc. It's also the reason why we have a lot of Christians who know what God requires of us, but because their desires are so powerful, they continue to sin, thinking that they have time to ask God for forgiveness. Fear isn't as much of a motivation as love is.
I know that I didn't really care about being beaten as a child as much as I cared about my mum or dad saying they were disappointed in me. That's because I love my parents and I wanted to make them proud of me and happy. Lol the smack will come and go, but the feeling of disappointing my parents had a stronger hold on me because of my love for them. It's the same way I just want to please God, not because I'm afraid, but because I want God to look at me and smile. Can you imagine how beautiful it would be to feel or see God smile at you.
Look at the end of the day, only the Holy Spirit can direct. Before speaking about God, ask the Holy Spirit to direct and teach you. Ask Him to speak through you and you won't fall into error. I'm well aware that what works for A may not work for B, I just believe that the general lesson of the gospel is love. So let's lead with love.
But please and please, if your motivation for being a Christian is because you're afraid of hell, search yourself and search your heart. That's not what God desires, He wants intimacy with you. God wants your love, your focus and your dedication. He wants you to love Him and know Him, He wants you to talk to Him and He also wants you to hear Him when He speaks. I don't believe you can be intimate with someone if you're afraid of them. That intimacy can't be true.
Please don't get me wrong, you must reverence God. He is most powerful, the wisest, He can do and undo anything. But in acknowledging God's power and reverencing Him, also draw nearer to Him in love, because the one thing I know for sure is that God loves you. So everything He does, He does in love, why? Because God is Love.
Once again I love you and God loves you!!