Monday, December 2, 2013

He Said…

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (AMP)  Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].

We shared that verse in our very brief Thanksgiving post.  That post basically said we were taking a few days off for the holiday.  The intent was to have sort of a working holiday, getting some things done I might not otherwise easily get to.  I don’t leave a lot of gaps in my schedule.  My plans went by the wayside for the week and I chilled out for a change.  As a result, I got to see some things that I might not otherwise.  And renewed some things in my mind.  Walk through some of that with me. There are only two in this post.

Friday evenings, if I’m home, I usually watch Blue Bloods with Tom Selleck.  My description of it is “the thinking man’s police procedural”.  There’s more to it than test tubes, microscopes, guns, and car chases.  For Thanksgiving weekend, CBS replaced that with a “live” show of Garth Brooks performing in Las Vegas.  I believe it was his last show of a contract with the Wynn Hotel.  The “live”, more than likely, meant recorded live.  No chance of the wrong kind of mistake going over the air. Which may have been wise.

Garth went through a kind of musical history of the things that influenced his music.  And he did it in a way that was like a one man play with music.  Very cool.  As he mentioned various artists and sang parts of familiar songs there was a lot of “Oh yeah, I remember that.”.  Both from the audience and me.  Brooks got a lot of points for nostalgia.  As he was describing the various stages in his growth, it included some of the vocabulary that went with it.  And, yes, I cringed a little at first.  But then I had one of those “Aha!” moments.

It struck me that, back in the day, that was my vocabulary.  I wasn’t a “goodie two shoes”.  Quite the opposite.  That leaves a memory that, in that respect, isn’t fraught with guilt, but a desire to be different  And, while I’m no longer comfortable around someone whose vocabulary is mostly swear words, I don’t feel like I need to avoid them, either.  Which leaves me the freedom to hang out with anyone and share the one Person who can really change us, both on the inside and the outside.

Revelation 21:5 (KJV)  And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

Yes, He said.  God also allowed to be said, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)  It takes Him making us new for anything of real value to come out of us.  It takes us in Christ and Christ in us.  We can be thankful for the salvation that makes us new, so that’s possible.

That same salvation gives us something else to be grateful for.  In our early service, yesterday, our missions director, Pastor Scibelli, preached on things to be thankful for.  The biggie was that he (we) won’t be going to Hell.  That’s something that’s been part of my Thanksgiving meditation, as well.

There’s discussion whether anyone goes to Hell, some question if there even is a Hell, others wonder about the nature of Hell.  If we are truly Christ followers, then we accept that God and sin are separated.  Christ paid for all our sins, but they still are separated from God.  If we don’t accept that gift of salvation, we get to stay with those sins.  Hell was never intended for us.  But, our alliance with Satan and our sins adds us into the list of potential Hell residents. 

There’s some very potent description of fire, brimstone, darkness, pain, etc. as being part of what Hell is all about.  Some take that as literal, others say it’s allegorical.  I believe it’s both.  Think of a really emotion laden relationship and the vast emotional pain when it ends.  Then, add to that the knowledge that one simple decision could have prevented all that pain.  And that wrong decision can’t be changed, ever again.  And the final straw? 

In eternity, we all get to find out that God really exists and how great He really is.  And, maybe even more important, we get to see the enormity of the sacrifice that was designed to keep us from having to go to Hell.  And the vastness of the love that would create such a sacrifice.  That takes the emotional and spiritual torment and increases it infinitely. 

The darkness? 1 John 1:5 tells us that God is light.  So, Hell would have to be dark because of the absence from God’s presence.  And there’s the reported wailing of agony that each hear, despite no contact with anyone else.  That actually makes sense.  Those who end up in Hell would likely be aware that others made the same wrong decision.  So, it makes sense that each would be eternally aware of others. 

We’re each responsible for our own decisions and the results.  That would seem somewhat negated by eternal fellowship with others who chose wrongly.  And the possible false hope of a solution by collaboration with others, if there were contact.  Part of Hell’s torment seems to be the awareness that it’s individual choice that got people there.  At the same time, personal effort can’t get them out.  So, while each one is aware of others in Hell, it fits that there is never any possibility of contact.

Avoiding all of the aspects of Hell is certainly reason to be thankful.  Having the freedom to hang out with those aimed in that direction, while being free to help them change that direction, takes that thankfulness to a whole new level.

John 14:5-7 (KJV)  Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

Once again, He said.  What He said was that there was a way  to be with  God and avoid Hell and it was easy to find.  If you haven’t found that way, it’s possible that you may not even consider that there is a way.  Or.  You may consider that your good behavior has given you the way.  In either case, wouldn’t wisdom indicate that being sure would be the smart thing to do?  The Gospels are a great place to start, beginning with John.  That’s a good place to get a handle on the love behind everything else.  Then you can delve into the rest of the Gospels to see what that love did.  And take enough time to be sure.

If you already have sealed a relationship with God, then you know how much you have to be thankful for.  Enough to share that joy with those who don’t yet realize the possibilities.  Do they know what He said?

1 comment:

  1. Great post my friend... I'm very thankful that hell is not my destination. If I were more grateful then I would be bringing allot more people with me. For to will is present with me, but to actually do it, I must repent because I don't care enough at times.

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