Thursday, August 23, 2012

Food for Thought - Heaven or Hell?

A question came up last night during Bible study about heaven and hell. Someone asked whether or not Hitler would be in the presence of God with us. The question comes from the prevailing Church’s teaching that hell is more of a state of our heart rather than a physical location of torture chambers and boiling oil and fire. So I try to remind people that we will ALL be with God when we die. If we love Him it will be heaven…if we don’t love Him it will be hell. If we love Him, then seeing Him love others will be heaven. If we don't love Him, then seeing Him love others will be hell. The question was more of a statement, “that doesn’t seem fair….” On the drive home, as happens so often, the answer came to me….

It isn’t about fair; it’s about God’s universal love for ALL people, sinners and non-sinners.  The Lord said,

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, 'Why have you been standing here idle all day?' They said to him, 'Because no one hired us.' He said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.' So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, 'Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.' And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.' But he answered one of them and said, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 'Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.  'Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?' So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen." (Matthew 20.1-16)

Our reward (call it heaven if you wish) will be given to us based upon how WE respond to how God has promised US. If we can’t get past how He will reward others with the same reward as He gives to us, then our reward will seem like torture and hell.

Is there judgment? Yes!

Is God the judge? Yes!

Will some suffer? According to His own testimony…Yes!

Will WE suffer? That depends upon our hearts.

Is it fair? If you consider there is nobody who is without sin, where should God set the boundary to heaven….just beyond of “those” sinners or “us” sinners?

Food for thought…

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