Which way is hell? (Or, Did Chubby Checker Preach Repentance?)

A thought occurred to me as I was doing laundry tonight. You might not know this, but St Thomas Aquinas did his best thinking while washing his socks. I’m just following a long tradition. Anyhoo, I was thinking about what other people think about hell.

First, people tend to ask, “If God is loving, how can he send people to hell and torture them forever?” And it’s a fair question.

The first time I ever met a girl who had been raped, I said, “This is why God created hell.” And I think that’s a fair reply. But there is more to the picture than we got in Gothic paintings. First of all, the Bible never describes hell as “Torture.” Punishment, yes. Horrible, yes. But it no more depicts people strapped to tables being tested to see how much pain they can endure than it depicts Satan running the place.

Did you know Satan doesn’t run hell? Not even middle management, let alone that Prince of Darkness business he’s always posting on his blog. Hell was created as a place of punishment for Satan and his minions. So much for all those heavy metal album covers.

You maybe asking, “But what about all that talk of fire?” Well, to be fair, hell is depicted as a place of eternal darkness, and a lake of fire, so if you can explain how a lake can be made of fire, or how fire can be dark, then maybe we can take all of those references as literal. Otherwise, I think we may have to admit that we don’t have a Google-Hell map of the place just yet.

So what about all that “weeping and Gnashing of Teeth?” The only place I know of in the Bible where it talks of gnashing teeth is the angry, hateful guys who are in the act of killing Stephen in the book of Acts. Did they also weep? I don’t think it says- but what if they could feel that rage and hate but also feel the full weight of their sin? I think they’d have some weeping and gnashing blending up in their hearts like a big old smoothy of hell.

I’ll bet Chuck Norris could kill a man, just by Gnashing his teeth. I’ll bet if you made him mad, Chuck Norris could gnash YOUR teeth. But I digress.

So what’s with Hell anyway? Why send people to hell for rejecting ONE religion? I think C.S. Lewis answered this best when he said something along the lines of what I was thinking while I was tossing my laundry into the dryer. “To turn away from the true God is like turning away from the sun. When you run from the sun, it doesn’t matter which direction you are facing, you are always running into your own shadow. When you run from God, you are always running into darkness.”

If you run into pantheism or atheism, Islam or Mormanism, Oprahism or the Cartoon Network, it ultimately doesn’t matter. When you run FROM Jesus, you are running INTO Darkness. This is why becoming a Christian means repenting. To repent means to turn around. When you turn back into the light, you turn your back on the darkness. When you turn to Jesus, you turn your back to your sin. This is why the Bible says “Faith without works is dead.” What it means is, “If you SAY you’ve turned into the light, but you’re still walking into the shadows, you’re a liar.” The text is unclear in the original Greek about whether you have “pants on fire,” but even if it you do, most scholars accept this fire imagery as figurative.

While there is some semantic debate on it, I would argue that it is fair to say God doesn’t send anyone to hell any more than the sun sends people into darkness. When you turn from the sun, you turn INTO darkness, because there is no where else to go. When you turn from God and reject his light, love, mercy, and salvation, you turn into eternal darkness and the full weight of your own sin. YOU run into hell when you run from God.

Repentance means turning around, so let’s Twist again, back into the light! Yes, Chubby Checker preached repentance- twist away from the darkness and into the light of God’s grace! Trust in Jesus and he’ll put your whole life on a heavy rinse cycle with bleach!

Hmmm… Maybe I’ll give that metaphor some more thought during my next load of laundry.



About rentafriend2000
Rocking my 40's with a heart full of love and muffins, science and technology. Jesus loves me and wants me to totally rock! And I am here to help.

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