I wrote this a few months ago and finally felt it was time to share it:
Some truths of heaven and hell have been being woven in me lately. Sharing thoughts along the journey.
A lot can happen in ten years. A lot of evil and good can happen. But the truth is that good not only triumphs evils, but it already has. Death has been defeated. Those things that we call evil do exist on earth, and we say to God, “Where are you now?” Then He reminds me, as hell can be brought down onto earth in ways we rarely fathom, so can heaven. So, are we bringing hell or heaven? What does that even mean?
This becomes a much bigger question, and much much deeper than the obvious evils of our history’s past. What happens when we choose evil over good? Because we too, carry the weapons of hatred, and yet we also have the power to break the bonds of oppression and depression and hatred in the name of the Lord. We have the power of love in our hearts just as much as darkness and we choose which sword we carry.
So, let’s talk about hell for a second. I recently read part of a book by Tony Campolo, titled, “Speaking My Mind”. In it he describes hell including, “loneliness, ongoing and intense boredom, being consumed with anger and hatred, torturous guilt, an overwhelming state of anxiety, and intensive unfulfilled lusts…these are a few…that awaits.”
Now, this was discussing a hell to come, and outside of the full context of the book that may not be apparent. BUT, if that describes hell to come, do I not have to fight it now?
This is not to knock Campolo, because that’s not what this is about, I respect his work. If this is hell to come and I have experienced most if not ALL of the things mentioned already, and some directly from those claiming to be the church itself, then what? What then?
We have our obvious hells and evils that are plaguing us on earth now, like murder and catastrophe, but what about our daily hells? The ones Campolo mentioned that we often choose to live into daily. Also, what happens when the church, who is supposed to bring heaven now is bringing hell? That’s a massive question. Is that church then broken? Is it church at all? God says we cut out our eye if it causes us to sin, so cut out the church? Or redefine your understanding of church. I don’t believe the church itself is the problem; at least not the church Christ calls us to be.
Hell to Come?
So, let’s say for a second that hell is to come and is not existing right now, then not only do I not have to fight it now but the “hell” I feel or have felt now and before is just my own sin and guilt and shame that I deserve to suffer, right? So, what was the point then? What was the point in Jesus if that is true?
I say, no, my God is not a God of suffering, guilt and shame. So, the evil and hell on earth is defeated in Jesus’ name. THAT is part of the good news we carry. Good news. We are redeemed here and now when we choose it, not later. In the same book Campolo says, “Hell is for people who choose to be there.” Are you choosing heaven or hell?
Christ in Us?
In a recent sermon by a well known pastor, he said, “When Christians start looking at what Jesus actually said, the result is profound.” Profound. Which directs me to Psalms 91 where we crush Satan under our feet now with the love and freedom of Christ sheltering us now. “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High…just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished.” Punished. Here I will direct you again back to the hells Campolo mentioned.
This is not to say that all who experience hells on earth deserve this. Actually, just the opposite. God came to make all things new. It is GOOD NEWS. It’s in the massive letting go and the choosing to accept heaven. It’s in the refusal to accept guilt and fear and to live instead in boldness and freedom of a Creator who ADORES you and wove you together perfectly, every part.
So, let’s talk about heaven. If hell can be loosed onto earth now, what about heaven? So, now our call, if we accept to follow and choose it, is to bring that heaven on earth.
When Christ bore our suffering and died for us to not have to feel the bonds of hell, he released heaven onto this earth like no one had ever seen. God released an army of love and FREEDOM.
So, if heaven can be here now, too, then we can work to bring that heaven, right? So, instead of walking as sinners we walk as saints, right? FREE from the bonds of hell.
But we aren’t free if we are bound by guilt, which comes in part from us not believing we are forgiven, YET.
Yet, guilt is a sign of damnation and separation from God. Which is the definition of sin. Guilt is dehumanizing. It takes away our humanity, but Christ calls us into a wildly majestic love story of redemption and love. This is no sappy hippie God, but one who by his might and power chooses to weave such intricate and delicate love stories into our bones that the evils we face tremble at his name. He is inviting us off a cliff but we have to choose to jump.
Is church actually each of us living out the love and freedom God calls us into? If we are the church, then how do we REDEFINE it in a way that reflects this good news, as the hands and feet (and eyes and lips and toes…) of Jesus on earth. We are heavenly image bearers of Christ through Christ on earth. Are we living up to what we’ve already attained? That being freedom, amongst other heavens.
So, we redefine the church on God’s terms. We look at heaven that we can bring now. In reflecting back on hell being not only massive catastrophe but also things we hide such as loneliness, let’s view heaven in that light as well. Then heaven is not only the major things we do, it is the little things. Actually, according to scripture, sometimes those “little” things are actually the bigger things.
I believe that God released heaven onto earth when he sent Jesus, and that heaven NEVER LEFT but will one day RESTORE EVERYTHING!
Do we live with our hells or our heavens? What hell are we holding onto? Do we live as if we deserve what we’ve already attained as followers of Christ? If we did, truly forgive ourselves as Christ does, choose love and freedom, then the whole world would see and know through us that God is making ALL THINGS NEW! We do not fear because our light overcomes death. We are saints and children of a mighty king.