This is a hypothetical question. There’s no need for it to get out of hand. I am certainly not a universalist.
I just want you to think about this question. “What if hell didn’t exist?”
Think about it. If Hell didn’t exist, how would that fact effect the way you 1) live your life, 2) make your friends and 3) preach the gospel?
Hypothetical or not, this is an important question. I believe it reveals a great deal about our belief system. In my mind, the Western church has become far to hell-focused, and far less Jesus-focused. Therefore, in asking this question I hope to assess (and hope that you do this as well) how much of this is true for me.
Here is my perspective in these three areas of inquiry.
If Hell Didn’t Exist…
#1 …How would that effect the way I live my life?
To be honest, this probably would effect my life. I would not stop preaching the gospel, nor would I stop dedicating my life to God. I would, however, think differently about my life.
And if I’m honest, it would be in a positive way.
I think my life would be filled with less stress and worry, and more peace and calm. Why? Because I wouldn’t live in constant fear of my friends, family, and acquaintance’s getting tossed into an eternal barbecue.
While I don’t I live in reaction to hell, I do live effected by it. On some level that’s a good thing, although I don’t believe hell to be a motivation for evangelism. Instead, I seek to live my life in reaction to the majesty of Jesus Christ.
I don’t think our focus in life should be on hell, or on preaching hell to convert people. I think our focus should be on Jesus. The magnificence of Jesus, the goodness of the Gospel, and the joy of salvation. This should overwhelm our lives. Hell, at best, is an afterthought. Jesus Christ is our magnificent obsession.
#2 …How would that effect the way I make friends?
To be honest, most of my friends are believers. Which as I’ve come to study the Gospel more, I’ve come to feel truly ashamed of this fact. Jesus was a friend of sinners, why am I not?
My wife, however, is awesome at this. So let me brag about her.
She inspires me tremendously with how selfless her love is for others. She loves and accepts people for who they are! not for the purpose of “converting” them or changing them. She is a genuine friend, who cares about the people in her life.
She inspires me. Of all the people I know, my wife is probably the best at genuinely loving well. Which ultimately, is what we’re called to do: love. Simply, love others.
I think we need to get ahold of this, too. Christians for far too long have lived in a “holy huddle.” But shouldn’t we be an inclusive group of friend-makers? Shouldn’t we be calling people in rather than making lines as to who is out. I mean, if we are serious about following Jesus, we should start acting more like Jesus (profound, I know). What did Jesus spend most of His time doing? Being a friend to sinners! Including the least of these, loving them, and accepting them!
#3 …How would that effect the way I preach the gospel?
About six years ago, if you’d asked me to preach the gospel without hell, I would have laughed and said, “Impossible!”
I was a “hyper-hell-fire-preacher.”
But today—thank God!—I have moved passed my fire-and-brimstone days. While I did learn a lot from that season, I also now see in retrospect that my motivation was not always love. I preached to achieve a certain religious goal, not because I actually cared for people.
When our gospel is a kind of fire-insurance, rather than a Jesus-introduction, we have a serious problem! The Gospel is not good news because we escape hell. The Gospel is good news because it means enjoying a relationship with God! God! The good Being, the happy Father, the delightful dance of love. That God is a good God, and that God is what makes the good news good.
The Gospel is good news because the God of the Gospel is a good God! It is not about avoiding hell, it’s about enjoying Jesus!
For me, this is essential. If hell did not exist, I would still preach the Gospel! Why? Because hell or no hell, everyone needs Jesus! Not in a threatening way, as in, “you need Jesus or else!”, but because life with Jesus is the best life. What greater joy is there than to be included into the Trinitarian fellowship of Father, Son, and Spirit? What greater freedom is there than to be fully accepted, loved, and embraced in Christ?
That’s what makes the good news good, and that is why I preach it!
So what do you think? If Hell didn’t exist, would you still live the way you do, make the friends the same way, or preach the Gospel? Let me know, comment below!
Like this article? Help me expand my reach by sharing:
[shareaholic app=”share_buttons” id=”612658″]