There are a lot of people in the Church today, starting with many pastoral leaders, who aren’t sure what to believe about Hell. We don’t really hear a lot about Hell in sermon messages these days. Why? Has the topic become too controversial or too confusing for the Church?
And how does this affect our children?
While I don’t condone scare tactics with our kids, I conducted a little impromptu experiment. Today as I was writing this article, my 9-year -old walked into my office. He asked what I was writing about and I looked up and told him, “About Hell.” Wide eyed, he looked at me and reminded me I had just used a bad word. “No” I said. “I’m writing about the place, Hell.”
I asked him what he knew about Hell. “It’s where you go if you’re bad.” His response made me realize I had better take the time to further explain God’s rescue plan of Jesus to MY OWN son!
I stopped writing and began a conversation with him about Jesus; about how none of us were good enough to share an eternity with God, and that the Father sent Jesus down to earth to pay our price (by dying in our place) to get into Heaven so we could have that eternity with Him. It wasn’t based on how good we are.
“Mom” he asked, “Do good people go to Hell?” Taking a deep breath, I tried my best to answer his question, without sounding trite or insincere; because God IS LOVE. He desires no one to go to Hell.
There are lots of mixed messages right now about Hell and it’s important that our children have a firm grasp of what the Scripture says.
John 3: 16-17, 36: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
It’s also important for our children to understand the urgency of the Gospel and that we reflect that urgency in our own daily lives. Because if we truly believe that there is a Hell and that the saving grace from the sacrifice of Jesus is what ensures us a place in Heaven…then we HAVE to take spreading the Gospel message a little more seriously—and urgently.
Whether it’s through fear, complacency or lack of knowledge, many in the Church are only comfortable being with other saved brothers and sisters. Let’s face it; talking to the unsaved about Jesus is difficult. Not because we lack conviction, but because it takes us out of our comfort zone. What if I offend someone? What if I say something Biblically wrong?
Take for instance our Muslim neighbor, who we love having over for coffee, but who we don’t want to offend in matters of faith…how do we start a conversation about Jesus with her? Thought process: Maybe if my actions are simply Jesus-like enough, she’ll ask me some questions about my faith! Nope—total cop-out. Because if I believe that Jesus was the only means that kept my nice neighbor out of Hell, I should have a sense of urgency to share the Good News with her!
If your child asked a question about Hell, how would you answer it? Should the Church have an urgency to talk to people about Hell in order to help save them from going there? Let’s start a dialogue…