The Movie Set
As I read today’s reading I felt as though I was on the set of a movie. I began to imagine this incredible banquet and battle taking place in the mountain ranges and forests of New Zealand with Gandalf, the hobbits, Peter, Lucy and Aslan all making a dramatic appearance! It is as though this spectacular, fiery, explosive conclusion to the Bible is a cross between Lord of the Rings and Naira: the fight between good and evil…some making it and others not.
‘And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books’ (Rev 20:12)
‘Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire’ (Rev 20:15)
We cannot ignore the fact that judgment is mentioned in the Bible. Many Christians attempt to hide the fact that there will be some sort of judgement when we eventually die. We prefer to look on the brighter side of life and talk of love and grace, which is understandable in a world of uncertainty, conflicts and fracture societies.
We all need love, and Christianity is a faith that is founded on a God who LOVED and still LOVES His world so much that He gave his one and only son. However, we forget to mention the last bit of that quote:
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16)
Last year, Rob Bell, Francis Chan and a number of other American Christian leaders/authors decided to write books on ‘hell’ and the end times. This obviously stirred up different opinions and thoughts on the reality of death, hell and what happens to those who believe and don’t believe. To cut a long story short, I agreed and disagreed with all of them. But to be honest, the majority of people that had the most issues with the different authors were Christians rather than those that don’t believe…this is also understandable, why should people care in something they don’t believe!
What is my view?
In my mind it’s simple…
1. There will be a day of judgement.
2. Those that God understands to have believed in Him will receive eternity with Him.
3. Those that God understands to have not believed in Him will receive eternity without Him.
There will be a number of people that disagree with me…that’s life! There will be those that will desperately search for a finite definition of the words ‘eternity’ and ‘judgement’ but to be honest, I haven’t got time or the energy for these discussions.
The problem for me is not differing views and the understanding of judgement but my issue is our (the churches) approach and reasons for seeing people come to faith.
For some, seeing people come to faith is purely so that they avoid hell (after death). For others, seeing someone come to faith is so that they experience the love and presence of God for today. But for me it is both.
I long to see people experience God’s Kingdom today. We cannot ignore that there are people in our world who are living through ‘hell’: warfare, famine, depression, illness, family breakdowns, and the list goes on. If the church are not willing to help them now, then why would people want to listen to what we have to say about something is seemingly distant!
I believe the church is called into those places of ‘living hell’. The church is called to make a difference today (practically and spiritually).
The church is called to point to Christ, demonstrate His love and then Jesus makes the call on someone’s eternity…it is not for us to judge!
Faith in Jesus
Seeing someone come to faith in Jesus is incredible. The transformation of someone living for Christ rather than self is something that is beautiful and powerful. Jesus not only transforms life for today but also transforms the eternal life.
Jesus came so that we can experience life to the max…today and for eternity.
Revelation is a book that does point to Jesus when we peal back the symbolic imagery and overall weirdness!
There is a thing called ‘judgement’ and the end times: the end of our lives and the death of the world (as we know it). The will be a conclusion to life.
So does it matter that we don’t fully understand everything? No!
Does it matter that we see people come to know and love Jesus? Yes!
Therefore the rest is simple…
‘Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:16-20)