I remember when I was talking to a friend once and he joked with me saying “you’re going to hell,” I laughed and replied “I don’t mind, I don’t believe in hell anyway” and he responded saying something in agreement. That conversation happened probably five years ago but I will never forget it. It not only reminds me how much I have changed, it also reminds me of who I want to be.
At the time, I only believed in God. I didn’t care about who Jesus was, I believed that only naive and desperate people clung on to such a deity, so if someone was to come to me and tell me that I was a sinner going to hell, I would probably just laugh. How can I go to a place that I don’t even believe in?
What I always take from this memory is that there is a difference between evangelism and condemnation, but sadly it is easy for them to be combined into one.
You hear the street preacher say “repent, or you will go to hell.” Your Christian friend “jokingly” refers to you as ‘the heathen.’ Hardly ever hearing the true Gospel.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” – 1 Peter 4:8.
It is so easy to become self-centred in everything that we do. Instead of pointing to the symbol of compeletely unconditional love on the cross, we judge others and remind them of where they have fallen short. We shout out “you’re a sinner,” instead of telling them about God’s love.
You see, to condemn someone and tell them that they are going to hell is pointless, particularly if they are like how I was. You would be better off telling them that they are going to Hogwarts. We must try and remember to talk to them about God’s love and to show them love because everyone, no matter who they are or what they’ve gone through can relate to love.
My pastor made an interesting point, Jesus never really spoke about hell to non-believers, most of his conversations about hell were with the disciples. When talking to those who didn’t believe, Jesus did not try and scare them in to believing, He just wanted to let them know how much they were loved.