Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Our Kids Prefer Heaven over Hell and Jesus over All

My daughters were asking their mother about Hell last night. They remember the name of Heaven (and Jesus, Heaven's King) so well. Hell is less familiar territory.

We speak of outer darkness, eternal fire, and total separation from God infrequently. We prefer the happier topics of Jesus, resurrection, forgiveness of sins, new creation, and the fruit of the Spirit. In fact, we are probably guilty of preaching a partial gospel focused on restoration to compensate for the partial gospel we heard growing up of judgment, depravity, and penal substitution. But you can't have the good news without the bad. As Fredrick Buechner notes in Telling the Truth, "The Gospel is bad news before its good news."

So my wife relayed the images Jesus and others have provided for Hell: fire where the worm does not die; wrath where sin earns its wages; separation where the soul has no access to God; darkness where no light (or joy or hope) can penetrate. Predictably, my girls found Heaven more inviting.

What pleases me most about my daughters' innocent embrace of Heaven over Hell is their preference for Jesus. We speak with them often about the riches we have when we follow the Son of God. We enter His family; we share in His glory; we experience His grace. Their affection for Jesus may be for His atoning work, His healing power, and His invitation to everlasting life. It could be His divine nature or His human form. It could be a blend of these factors and something more.

Regardless, last night's conversation with their mother underscored an important matter in my daughters' faith. They do not express belief in Jesus because they are afraid of Hell. He is not their escape. He is their reward. So they look forward to His return. And it's helping me long for His restoration of all things, too.

Rev 21:5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

Rev 22:12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Rev. 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

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