A recent Lifeway Research survey reported that only 46% of the population thinks about heaven. (I guess that means they don’t think about hell either!) If people don’t believe in heaven or hell…why would they care about Jesus? Maybe it is time to get back to basics! I’ve often heard the phrase “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Recently I read the rest of the quote…”Hell is paved with good intentions and roofed with lost opportunities.” Maybe we are missing the opportunity to share the gospel because of our good intentions. Who among us wants to walk up to someone and tell them they are going to hell? We might get laughed at, scorned or even worse – a black eye! We would rather talk about heaven…that is more appealing, and more socially acceptable. But if all we talk about is heaven, people may not consider the only other possibility. The truth is, we probably aren’t talking about heaven and hell very often. And that is probably why 46% of our population isn’t thinking about it. Is it necessary to talk about hell – or can we just encourage people to choose heaven?
There was a famous preacher, Jonathan Edwards, whose sermon titled “Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God” is credited with helping to bring about the Great Awakening of New England, 270 years ago. In his sermon, Jonathan Edwards talks about the biblical reality of hell – and how to escape going there. History reports people crying out and begging to know how to avoid the wrath of God that Edwards so clearly preached about. New England was transformed because of this message and others like it. I don’t want to go around scaring people with the existence of hell. But there is a worse thought. I don’t want them to go there.
I had a conversation with my oldest son a few days ago. We were discussing the fact that hardly anyone he knew went to church in college, and almost all of his Christian friends had serious faith issues during that time. (Statistically less that 1% of college students attend church on Sunday morning.) I asked him what it was like now that he was out of college and in a young adult class. He said that many of the people he knew in church weren’t there because they had a huge desire to be closer to God, they just needed a group to belong to. Church provided that group. I was asking him what he thought needed to be done. His answer intrigued me. He said that people would be more interested in God if we could answer their question: “Why should I care?”
Highway 2012 – Destination 2030. How do we change the culture in the next 18 years? The first thing we need to do is answer that question. Why should they care? I don’t know about you…but I think I’m going to get back to basics. Hell is a real destination – and I don’t want anyone to go there. I will pray for God’s wisdom, words and timing – but I will pray also for the opportunities. And if I get a black eye or two – I’ll consider that a reasonable cost for sharing the truth.
C.S. Lewis, a famous theologian, passed away in 1963. He once said, “It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you will get neither.” If that was true over 50 years ago, how much more is it true today? I’m going to bring up heaven and hell more often. Black eyes will only last awhile – but souls last forever.