As a child growing up in church, I was presented with heaven and hell. Which would I choose? Heaven or Hell? Well there is no contest, especially because of the descriptions of hell that cluttered my childhood. I had the wrong idea though. I was scared of being bad. I was not sure of God's love. It didn't make sense that a loving God could involve himself with hell.
It comes up alot in the New Testament and I am tempted to skim over those parts. I don't want to meditate on them. The picture of anyone ending up in hell makes my skin crawl.
Recently I was told that there is no hell because it was not in the Hebrew Bible. My heart took a leap. That would take a load off.
As I have aged, I have experienced a healthy and loving relationship with God Himself through Jesus and can understand his unconditional love and forgiveness increasingly, every day. It is a growing thing. I don't like to think about hell very often because of how it was dramatically overdone by people who thought it was important to scare me into "reaching out to Jesus." Hell does need to be considered.
Now I teach Bible to middle schoolers. I've heard all the questions. I googled all the verses. The Bible says that hell was created for Satan and his rebel angels. The Bible also talks about human rebels who turn away from God and face hell. Matthew 25:41 speaks of the separation between those who have done good and those who have done evil. It says:
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Whoa...
The gospel is not about hell as much as it is about Jesus. We believe and hopefully are humble enough to drop our selfishness and entitlements and totally embrace Him. He overcame death and sin. Falling in love with Jesus makes you think about and long for God's kingdom. There is no comparison choosing God's kingdom and Satan's domain.
We are told by Jesus that we are to become like little children to understand the Kingdom of Heaven and spiritual things I have tried thinking through this with a child's heart. I watch kids play villains and superheroes. This is a type of play that come naturallly. It seems there is most often victory and a triumph for good. And sometimes, in their pretending, evil triumphs. Good doesn't look as good as when it is matched with evil. It is the same with heaven and hell. There is a childlike desire in us to desire something good. Hell is not attractive at all. I don't like the idea of scaring people into heaven. I don't even understand what the hesitation is to choose the way of life in Jesus. I choose with my heart to follow Jesus. Life is not easy following him, but at least I have someone walking through it all with me and is hugely bigger. I am not afraid of what is next. I can live now in the victory of Jesus There is always more to learn. There is fulfillment. Death is killed. Sin is killed. Mistakes and humaness are still alive and well in me on this side of heaven.
I believe that God who is just and good and perfect will do it all right for all who want and appreciate him. It will be above and beyond our imaginations and our reasonings.