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Sunday, March 11, 2012

That's it - you're off!

It's Sunday. No one wants to think about Hell.

Sunday is about Heaven. I'm not going to cast aspersions on anyone's interpretation of Scripture but in my opinion, there are far too many who believe that by going to church on Sunday, they can make up for a multitude of sins committed between Monday and Saturday.

Church becomes the limbo bar that we duck under to avoid paying the penalty for our sin(s). Hell is the inexorable stone door that modern culture has taught us we can avoid with some effort and a little luck.

Indy loses his whip, but we all know what happens...

Not hardly. I can go to church every Sunday of my life and it won't make a bit of difference as to my eternal place in this universe. From conversations I've been a part of the big stumbling block for most people is: Why would a loving God consign His children to a bottomless pit of fire and misery forever?

I'm not in any way intending to make light of a very serious subject, but in effect, anyone who does not accept Christ as their Savior (read John 14:6 to get started on the need for Jesus), gets shown the eternal red card.
In sports and in life, there's always a ref

From the rule book of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association):

A player, substitute or substituted player is sent off and shown the red card if he commits any of the following seven offences:
  1. Is guilty of serious foul play
  2. Is guilty of violent conduct
  3. Spits at an opponent or any other person
  4. Denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area)
  5. Denies an obvious goal scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick
  6. Uses offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures
  7. Receives a second caution in the same match
In football (the real kind), a caution is also known as a yellow card. So above, you have the immediate sending off offenses and below are the ones you can commit once and get away with it, but do it twice and you're off!
A player is cautioned and shown the yellow card if he commits any of the following seven offences:
  1. Is guilty of unsporting behavior
  2. Shows dissent by word or action
  3. Persistently infringes the Laws of the Game
  4. Delays the restart of play
  5. Fails to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick, free kick or throw-in
  6. Enters or re-enters the field of play without the referee’s permission
  7. Deliberately leaves the field of play without the referee’s permission
Go back and read those again (please)...

Now, think of God as the referee and all of us as the players.

In the caution department, I can't count the number of times I've been guilty of unsporting behavior in life. I have shown dissent, persistently infringed the laws of the game (Ten Commandments) and done many things without the referee's permission. So from that alone, I have earned more than one caution and deserve to be sent off. 
In football, getting a straight red is not helpful to the team. It leaves your mates a man down and at a distinct disadvantage for the remainder of the game. In the realm of bookable offenses, I like to think that I've not been that bad. But in my younger days I was guilty of foul play, violent conduct and abusive language and gestures. I would have had no leg to stand on if God had decided that He'd had enough and showed me the red.
"That's not fair!" you shout. "We have no way of knowing for sure if God is who you say he is. And besides that if I haven't even played the game I don't deserve to be punished!"

All great points. I'm not here to judge anyone. I'm just sharing what I think about this whole Heaven and Hell thing. My understanding is that Hell was not created for us to begin with. Although Revelation 20:15 indicates that anyone who's name is not found in the Book of Life is cast into the Lake of Fire, I don't think that counts as an eternity of torment for those who did not accept Christ in this life. I'm just guessing, but the Lake of Fire sounds like an eternal red card: you're out of the game.
There also seems to be a lot of chatter about how unfair it is that people who don't even know about Jesus can end up getting shown the red through no fault of their own. For that particular point, I typically refer to Matthew 24:14 which indicates that everyone will get the chance to hear and make a decision.

I believe that God is a God of love. He is like our earthly parents. Our parents punish us when we mess up but always give us another chance. We get things that we don't deserve and we don't get things that we do (deserve). Getting things we don't deserve can be called Grace. and not getting things that we do deserve can be called Mercy

I'm not a bad guy. I work hard, I do the best I can to support my family and be a good husband and father; I'm like billions of other people on this planet. Nothing about me is special except for one thing:

I have accepted that Jesus was/is the earthly Son of God and that he died on the cross for my sins and then defeated death so that I, too, might defeat death at the end of my days here. In other words, I may be guilty of multiple red card offenses but through Jesus, I've escaped a lifetime ban.

You can believe that I'm crazy or whatever you prefer to think. God can't be defined in a blog. All I can do is share what I think and hope that spurs a dialog about what others believe.

So, what do you think?


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