This post is born from a burden I have sensed for years that was ignited again yesterday. I was reading the comment section of a blog and someone made a joke about Hell. The context is irrelevant and it was obviously a joke. However, I was not laughing. Hell is a real place where real people suffer without hope of relief.
Here is a point I want to make that I hope generates as much discussion as Santa: Our cavalier attitude toward Hell proves that we don't actually believe it exists. Evangelicals will defend the reality of Hell with the utmost vehemence (because it is in the Bible) with their lips. But, our lack of sleeplessness at its reality condemns us.
I am not here to point fingers at anyone. I am sure I have joked about Hell somewhere along the way. However, let us reconsider what our joking accomplishes:
1. Our joking about Hell weakens our brokenness over its reality. When you laugh at something, your trick yourself into denying its reality.
2. Our joking about Hell confirms non-believers in their sin. If Hell is lifted up as something funny, sin is no longer serious (Offending a holy God is nothing to worry about because Hell is not that serious).
3. Our joking about Hell nullifies the Cross of its clarity. The Cross is God's alternative to Hell. You either embrace Christ and have your sins forgiven or you embrace yourself and pay for your own sins in Hell. If Hell is not serious, then the Cross isn't either.
Some resources to consider:
1. Sam Storms' 4 articles called "Hell and the Happiness of Heaven."
2. John Piper sermons and articles on Hell and Judgment.
3. Jim Elliot quote: "Oh why stand we debating whether or not children under the 'age of accountability' (whatever that may mean) are going to heaven when we are dead sure that multitudes round about us are pouring hourly into hell?"