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There are a few who would argue with my position that everyone loves life.  I hear them say, “I hate my life,” or, “Life sucks.”  That doesn’t sound like a love of life, does it?

But we all have a survival instinct.  We want to live.  And the fact that we know our circumstances are not good indicates that we know there is something better.  That something better is life.  And that’s what we’re after.  Real life.

So I suppose it’s really a question of evil and pain and where it all comes from.  The big answer is that we live in a spoiled universe, and that things are not as God intended.  They will be again someday, but we live in the here and now.  I heard of a question that a grieving mother posed to God in the height of her pain after the death of her young son.  She asked what any of us would ask:  “God, where were you when my son died?”  She believed God could have prevented it, and she was right.  But instead she was dealt the loss of one dear to her.  Then, in her heart of hearts, she heard an inaudible voice answer, “Right where I was when My Son died.”

You see, God doesn’t change, He doesn’t move, and His love and power don’t fluctuate.  He grieves with us.  He offers solace.  He offers a better life.  He challenges us, encourages us, and partners with us.

Sometimes the thing we aim for is not the thing we achieve.  Sometimes our target is wrong.  “I just want to be happy.”  So I try this or that, and strive to get people to do what I want to make me happy.  There!  That should do it.  Right?  Oh, wait.  That wasn’t it.    So I try something else.  It lasts for awhile…

But what if I forget about myself and aim for something entirely different?  What if I try to make someone else happy instead?  It’s kind of a “cast your bread upon the waters” thing.  Maybe that’s where I find life.  Perhaps I was looking in the wrong place.  (If you voted for this answer, you passed the course.  Well done!)

But back to the “He offers a better life” part.  If her son is still dead, how is that better?  The answer, I believe, is in the hope.  Not in the hope of his return to this earth, but in the hope that comes from trusting the One who holds all things, despite the rottenness that we live in.  We hope for better and it will happen, some of it later, but some of it now.

The Bible talks about the whole creation “groaning” for the restoration of all things.  All things.  That’s not just people, but this whole planet, at least.  God’s going to make it all better.  He’s going to return it to its original condition as when He first made it, the way it was before death and ugliness entered in.  And for now, the place where we live today, He really does walk through it with us.  That’s my hope, and it’s been my life.

 

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I’ve heard Christianity maligned as being narrow-minded for saying that just because someone doesn’t believe like we do, that we Christians think they are going to hell.  I got to thinking about this and talking to other folks about it.  The question inevitably arose:  Why DOES hell exist?

It’s a complicated issue, and I don’t pretend to know it all or to be able to adequately explain even what I believe about it, but here’s what I’ve come up with:  Hell is a result of the wrong that we all do.  It’s a result of the undeniable human condition that some call sin, others call moral guilt, and that we all experience both as culprits and as victims.

So, here’s an eye-opener:  If it’s sin that sends us there, then it’s not any belief or denial of it that lands us in the place of doom.  I can’t say that anyone is going to hell because of unbelief in Jesus.  We were all going there already.

So now it sounds like that is to be the destination for all of us, doesn’t it.  Am I now denying the existence of heaven?  Not at all.  The reason we know evil is that we know good.  The reason we feel pain is that we know what it is like to be comfortable.  Ugliness is a perversion of beauty.  And so hell must also have its counterpart.

We tend to be a very polite society.  I’ve heard that we say please and thank-you and excuse me more than other cultures.  We also tend to downplay apologies by saying that’s OK, when perhaps I forgive you might be more appropriate.  After all, if it were “OK,” there would be no need for an apology, now would there.  Do you think we tend to project this attitude on God?  I mean, do we think He will also downplay our wrong-doing and overlook our sin?  And will He do it for the wrongs of our enemies as well as for ours?

What a dilemma!  He loves us dearly, and yet here we are in this mess.  He can’t forgive one without forgiving all, yet how can He just turn a blind eye to our guilt?  Or should He rate our sins?  Actually, I might think that the one who stole my wallet is worthy of judgment, while you might say the one who betrayed you is more guilty.  Where should the line be drawn?

So let’s say we’re all in the same boat.  We’re all guilty of something – many somethings.  We have to admit the boat is sinking!  We’re in trouble and we know it.  But on the horizon we see a Rescuer.  We hear a loudspeaker:  “Climb on board my rescue craft and let me help you.  It’s the only way you’ll escape the storm!”

Some will accept the offer, maybe a bit skeptically at first.  Others will scoff and look for another way out.  Still others may deny their fate, believing if they just row fast enough they’ll make it to safety.  It is not my intention to get into all the theological implications, explaining biblical covenants or the substitutionary death of Christ here.  It was just a huge awakening for me to realize that it’s not unbelief that leaves us in our sinking boat – it’s simply failure to accept the rescue.  And I wanted to share my thoughts with you.

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