How Can a Loving God Send Good People to Hell? (Spoken Word)
Tonight at church I did something really different. I actually can’t remember a time I when I have been so nervous (I’m talking days!) prior to sharing. Having been given the topic “How can a loving God send good people to hell?“, and a grand total of 5 minutes to share from the platform, the scene was primed for creativity.
So rather than preaching, I wrote and presented the message in a “spoken word” format while the graphic above progressively appeared behind me. It wasn’t just about communicating with a different style, but rather, with the limited time that I had, to share in a way that would prompt questions, invite people’s hearts to resonate with the imagery, and hopefully make a few key statements stick. The video can be found here, but for those interested here are the lyrics:
When I proposed to Megan I put everything on the line
in the hope that she would say, “Yes, you’re mine.”
Moments like these are stunning moments of love,
but it is still a choice, not a push or a shove.
So when it comes to the question of how a loving God
can send good people to hell, it’s worth a second thought
Like a bended knee, slowly getting moist
we remember that love by nature demands free choice.
So in the context of our relationship with the God of love
he gives us a choice, one below, one above.
The freedom to follow Jesus and the kingdom or reign of God
or to put our faith elsewhere – in ourselves, possessions, others, in whatever we want.
Our loving God doesn’t send people anywhere,
like a cop directing traffic without a care.
His love gives people what they want and yet at the same time,
he is relentless in his attempt to draw all his children to the divine.
God is on his knee, asking us the question;
“embrace my love, grace and truth, you are no exception.”
God is for us, but will not force us.
In his book The Great Divorce C.S. Lewis ensures us:
There are only two kinds of people in the end:
(and it’s nothing to do with this word “send”)
Those who say to God, “Thy will be done,”
and those to whom God says, “Thy will be done.”
The invitation is freely given, but the choice remains to come.
But all of this about love, freedom, and decision,
is a secondary issue to this important question.
Because getting right with God is not about our goodness,
heaven isn’t something we earn, it is a gift opened through acceptance.
The gospel is all about God embracing us,
Saving us in the midst of our failures and sins, asking us to trust.
This is grace!
A distinctive of the Christian faith. It was never about how good we are,
with even our best efforts, we can only get so far.
Humbled, broken, approaching his open arms with meekness,
we’re reminded that Gospel is gift, surrender in the midst of our weakness.
When we get caught up in the “goodness” game,
we end up asking questions that we later realize are lame.
I mean, how good is good enough? Asks our imagination,
to then be deceived by our subjective self-estimation.
Getting right with God is all about surrender,
handing our life over to God, like you would a deed or a tender.
Living the way God created us to live, the best way to live,
embracing all the life there is.
A life that orbits around God, rather than him orbiting around our part,
after all, real goodness flows from a broken and contrite heart.
So in light of all this, the temptation for some,
may be to throw the concept of “hell” out altogether, to ditch and to run.
But we need this word hell, not to be used as a threat,
(After all “perfect love casts out all fear”, gospel is not tool for regret)
but rather “hell” as a way of understanding and describing
the very real experiences and consequences of our denying
God given goodness and humanity, the wounds that leave us crying.
We don’t mind judgement until it is directed at us,
we see evil, abuse, oppression and say justice is a must.
Because if God is in the business of restoration,
then evil and chaos need a destination.
And for that, the term “hell”
works very, very well.