Friday, November 18, 2005

A Loveless Eternity

What if we’re wrong? What if we’ve got it all backwards and we all end up in Hell? Well, according to all my non-believing friends, that’s where all the hot guys and girls are going to be, so why not? If Hell is an endless party, I’ll be the first one in line, but if there’s a slight chance it’s something less than that, I’m fighting tooth and nail for a ticket on a different bus. So what exactly is Hell going to be like (and may I please never find this out firsthand!)? It’s been depicted as this black hole of torture with fire that never ceases, people screaming out in pain and terror, and the whole show is run by this crazy little guy with horns, a pitchfork, and a fetish for basking in the suffering of others. Maybe, but what if we’re wrong? What if none of those things are there? What if, just what if…

It isn’t what WILL be in Hell that will be of great consequence, but rather what will NOT be there – God’s love. Have you ever been in love, so deeply in love that the mere thought of being apart seems too intense to bear? Every second feels like an eternity. Your mind is consumed with thoughts of nothing but returning to your true love again, feeling their gentle embrace and gazing into their eyes. Here’s the worst part – you cannot even sleep to numb the pain momentarily. Now imagine that fear of separation actually becomes a reality. Imagine you find yourself in Hell when you die and your Jesus, your savior, the lover of your soul, is nowhere to be found. You are in a loveless eternity, because in Hell, the presence of evil is not quite as disturbing as the absence of good (God). This scares me much more than some pesky flame that I cannot extinguish. The idea of being sans Jesus forever is much more than frightening. It’s excruciating, tormenting, a thirst that cannot be quenched by any worldly object or person, not that either of those things would be available to you in Hell anyway. I keep hearing the voice of that guy who announces movie trailers…”In a world without love, one man stood at the door and knocked, but no one listened. Now, they will have to live with the knowledge that while He walked amongst them, they chose to follow Fleetwood Mac and Not Jesus – they chose to ‘go their own way.’” I hate that guy and his crazy voice of doom, but seriously, he’s right. Love walks amongst us now, but not everyone will reap the benefits of that forever.

So what are we in the afterlife if not entangled in a passionate love affair? Well, Paul describes this scenario in 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” In a loveless eternity, we are nothing and we gain nothing. I think this is the only thing that inspires in me the urge to share Christ with people. And I don’t mean to shove religion down their throats, but to share my Jesus with them. It’s about as close to evangelism as I get. I don’t have a desire to convert the world or win a million souls for Jesus. Maybe I should, but I don’t. When my heart breaks for non-believers, it’s because they don’t know my Jesus. They don’t know how much He loves them, how warm His hugs are and how sweet His kisses are. They don’t know what lengths He would (and did) go to for them, how wide His arms stretch, how ruthlessly He pursues them, and how long He would hang on a tree just to get their attention. If only they knew.

Lord, let them know. In your loudest, deepest movie trailer voice, speak to them and say, “In a world where love slept, one man came to awaken their senses.” Lord, awaken their senses. Let the burden of a loveless eternity be enough to scare the Hell out of them…and out of me and out of my friends and my family…and the people who work at the DMV, Michael Moore and Bill Maher, people with road rage, sports rage, and buyer’s remorse, terrorists, pessimists, and egoists, Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey and the homeless. Ah heck, scare the hell out of everyone!

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