I was running a few weeks ago and a guy handed me a little card that read “Good people go to hell”. Immediately I knew this was a religious handout undoubtedly using a ‘scare tactic’ to win people for Christ. Well, this just made me furious…and my already high running heart rate just climbed higher. And to the random man on the street with the handout…thank you for a little more aggressive cardio workout that particular morning!
Good people go to hell…really? I would really like someone to define good for me. Actually while you’re at it…go ahead and define bad for me too. Maybe Santa can define good?…because he actually does have a “nice” and “naughty” list. God’s “list” is a bit different though.. And I’m tired of people trying to scare others to believe in Christ. My faith is SO much more than fear.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
And in fact, my faith has nothing to do with being good or bad. It has to do with being human. It has to do with love. And forgiveness. And a relationship.
Several weeks ago one of the pastors at my church was speaking about the relationship you have in Christ and how that relationship motivates you to action (i.e. following "the rules"). As Christians, our faith is often perceived to be about rules…following and breaking rules. Now don’t get me wrong, I love rules. I love making them and yes, sometimes I like breaking them too. But my faith isn’t about rules. It’s about a relationship. (And it's a darn good thing it's not about rules...because I would be sure out of luck!)
God recognizes we are all human—good, bad and ugly --and He has this amazing vision of what life should be. Unfortunately our ‘humanness’ gets in the way of His perfect vision. Here enters Jesus…to stand in our place so one day we get to experience God’s perfection in Heaven. This isn’t about rules, it’s about love. A love that none of us can even comprehend because it is that BIG.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
So when I get on my knees and pray for those people around me to believe, I don’t pray so they will be “good”. (Just for the record, I don't pray that they will be 'bad' either! Just wanted to clear that up!). I don’t pray that they will wake up and start following a long list of rules. I don’t pray that they will fear going to hell and seek out Christ.
I pray one day they will get to experience this amazing relationship with God. And feel what forgiveness is like. And unconditional love. And grace. And mercy. Because these are the things of my faith and this is what my relationship with God is like: I fail, He forgives, I try really hard but fail again, He forgives again and again and again. He demonstrates an unconditional love that cannot be expressed in words. I pray those around me will get to experience the perfection God intended one day in Heaven.
I’m so incredibly thankful my faith isn’t about the rules…because I would fail miserably. His love on the other hand…His love is my faith.
Failing, forgiving, and loving,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.