This is often how Christians refer to hell. We kind of hold this over the head of those who don’t believe. “They’re going to burn forever,” we say.
I’ve been thinking a lot about hell. What it is and what it will be like for those who enter it. Is it really just this fiery pit that people live in for eternity?
Granted we get this imagery from the Bible. So it does have some merit but I can’t help but wonder if it all isn’t a little deeper than just a bunch of people in a fire.
What makes heaven such a perfect place is experiencing the fullness of God’s presence. The joy, love, wisdom, and all other attributes of God that we can grasp in their entirety. This is what makes heaven, heaven. It isn’t the gold streets people like to think of. None of that really matters.
So what makes hell a horrible place isn’t the fire, it is the lack of God’s presence in that place. When I think of passages such as Luke 16 and Romans 1:24 there is outlined a hell that is more about the focus on self, denial, blaming others, and blindness. These attributes of hell overshadow that of fire and damnation.
Tim Keller defines hell by saying, “hell is simply one’s freely chosen identity apart from God on a trajectory into infinity.”
C.S. Lewis says this about hell:
“There are only two kinds of people—those who says “Thy will be done” to God or those to whom God in the end says, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell choose it. Without that self-choice it wouldn’t be Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.”
True joy can only come from God.
(A lot more could be said on this subject, I know. There are books written about it. But this should be a helpful starting place for us.)
(Photo: Ken Musgrave)