Do You Think I’m Going to Hell?

My friend and I were home from college for winter break one year, and he picked me up to take a drive and catch up on life. We parked at a local lake with a beverage and talked about our semester so far. Out of the blue, he (who is Jewish) asked me, “Do you think I’m going to hell because I’m Jewish?” I took a dramatic pause and said, “Yes”. He knew, of course, that I was making a joke, but I followed up with, “Nobody knows who is going to heaven or hell, least of all me.” We moved on to other topics, and the subject never came up again, but even 45 years later, I wonder; why are some people so focused on who will go the heaven and who will go to hell? Entire segments of the Christian faith continue to legislate and condemn and spend time and money trying desperately to convince people to accept Jesus, as if evangelism were some kind of pyramid scheme or competition. It seems to me that for many of these desperate people, saying you believe in Jesus is far more important than living as you do. It’s also easier to fill your quota of saved souls.

This has been a big part of our downfall as faith in general; and while we Mainline Christians say that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, honestly, most of us don’t believe that the word “only” should go with that phrase. Of course, I can only speak for myself, but I have known hundreds of non-Christians who are living more Jesus-like lives than many Christians I know. For too many people, the cross is more about a fashion look than a life decision. These same Christians who think those who believe differently from them (they include me in that group) will not make the cut are also serial cheaters and abusers, who are meanwhile calling for the death of LGBTQ people, decimating educational systems, and working to make America white again. I don’t know what kind of Jesus they think they are following, but I can’t find Him anywhere in the Bible.

These same Christians gleefully wait for Armeggedon, watching the planet die as they stockpile weapons for the coming Apocalypse. These same Christians cry in anguish because they have to wear masks in public places (my body, my choice) while they pass laws to control women’s bodies and birth control rights. These same Christians focus on everything except what Jesus taught, and they have no idea why that matters. They pick out the most gruesome passages of the Bible and overlook the most loving parts, trying to convince us that they are Bible-believing people. These same Christians tell me I am going to hell because I don’t think LGBTQ people, or Muslims, or Jews, or _____ are. When judgment matters more than grace, God is taken out of the equation.

I believe in a final judgment, and I believe in heaven and hell. The difference between my take and how some others believe is that I think heaven is a whole lot bigger than hell, and that in God’s house, there are many rooms. And I, also, do not have the power to decide who gets in and who doesn’t, which is just fine with me. Let God be God; I have enough work on hand being me. I wonder what might happen if we focused on today’s daily bread and left the future to unfold. Feels a lot less stressful and freeing to me.

Prayer – We hope that all of Your children who love and serve You will someday be together with You. Until then, give us wisdom as we walk this journey together. Amen.

Today’s image is from the video, “The Parable of the Spoons”. It’s worth looking up on YouTube.