*This is a theory I have on the simplified Christian view of Hell – not the biblical view, but rather how we as humans have muddied that view. In my own life, I believe I fall victim to this view in order to justify my actions, so I’m simply writing this to throw it out there and see what other people think. If you feel the need, please criticize me.
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” – John 17:3
All throughout scripture, Eternal Life is mentioned. As John 17:3 states, this Eternal Life is found only through knowing god, and recognizing Jesus Christ as your savior. This is a pretty standard, commonplace teaching in Christianity. We grow up being taught that the gift of God is eternal life, and constantly thank God for this gift.
But what about the other side of the statement? What about those that never accept the Gospel? Why do we never hear of their fate in the same manner?
The truth is, we do. Matthew 25:46 describes hell as “eternal punishment,” and heaven as “eternal life.” So I suppose my question is why do we tend to overlook this view of Hell? I have a theory, and it involves a new perspective. We often see hell as death, which in our human minds triggers an end, or the end. We picture Hell as a sort of ‘end of chances,’ and basically end up discussing it as “not heaven” rather than what it really is. In doing so, we completely discredit hell for what the Bible tells us it really is. We, as Christians, can easily end up picturing the afterlife as either never-ending joy with Christ, or a black room. Basically, we try to look away from the eternal reality of hell in order to brush aside the urgency of sharing the gospel. I believe we live in a denial of the reality of hell because of our great desire to live in an ideal world where God rescues all from hell, whether they recognize Him for doing so or not.
The truth, however, isn’t ideal. And it is urgent.
The truth is, everyone gets eternal life, but others see a different side of it. While some will experience eternal joy and peace with Christ, others will experience, as Matthew 25:46 says, “eternal punishment.” This eternal punishment is more than a black room, or an end to it all. It is never-ending, and it is punishment. There’s no mediocre, in-between area for the non-believers we really like, no matter how much we all wish there was one. It is eternal either way, and it’s the job of Christians to show the people we love which way to choose. Until we see hell as the other side of eternal life, and live with that in mind, I’m not sure we really have the ability to empathize and truly anguish as Paul did over the fate of the unsaved.
Do you realize we’re all headed to an eternity with two options? And do you realize that you have the ability to help people decide which option to choose? There is no middle ground. There is no mediocre punishment. There is no ideal world where those that reject God receive heaven. Live as a warning to this fact out of love for all of those who are just as unrighteous as you and I. No one deserves heaven, and everyone deserves hell, but everyone deserves to hear their options as well. Not everyone will accept them, and not everyone will believe them. But everyone does have the right to know what their options are.
Do you see both sides of eternity? Or do you only see eternal heaven, while blocking the reality that is eternal hell? Realize there are only two options in eternity – and you have the power to tell what those are and how to choose the better.