...than on a tropical beach sitting in a hammock.
...than in the mountains during a foggy and misty sunrise.
...than with my wonderful wife and kids on an extravagant all-expense paid cruise.
...than sitting on my back porch eating a fried egg on top of a Goolsby sausage sitting on a piece of white bread...
WHAT?!?! Hold on just a minute here. That last one cannot be counted! I love some Goolsby sausage!
Okay, so you are now scratching your head wondering if I have completely lost my mind...or if I have a point that I am going to try to put forth for your consideration. There is a point.
For some time now, I have been pretty active in social media. My preferred medium for this social interaction is Facebook. The world of Facebook can be both bad, and good. It can be consuming, and enlightening. It can make new friends...and reintroduce old friendships that may have gone by the wayside.
But, even with all of this good, there seems to be this constant nagging around the "world wide web" about issues that we really should not be debating, voicing "opinions," and twisting.
I have personally seen, and have had others ask me if I had seen such comments or pictures that say something like:
"I would rather burn in hell than to be in heaven with a bunch of hypocrites (substitute homophobes, goody two shoes, judging people, etc.)"
The first time that I had ever caught myself singing the song "If Heaven Ain't a Lot Like Dixie, I Don't Want to Go," I was so fearful that God would not forgive me for even singing along that I almost had a tear jerking cry right on the spot. Then of course there was the song that had such a great tempo and also as catchy: "I'd Be Better Off In A Pine Box" by Doug Stone that says he would rather go to hell than to think about not being with his lady friend. Yup...I sung that one a time or two too. I even learned to "skip" the words that were offensive, or what I thought would be offensive to God anyway.
Within the attitude of these particular lyrics, I think many times we see things in a different light than they really are. Recently, I had a few friends that did not like something that I quoted directly from the Bible. Their response, after arguing for a while about it - "I guess I will just burn in hell then, because I would rather be happy."
This type of response and the entire attitude has to be so very upsetting to our God, and His Son Jesus Christ. Think about that just a minute. Jesus went to the cross, suffered, bled, and died for the sake of not desiring that ANYONE should suffer; yet, there are those in this world today that say that they are much happier in a state of life that could lead them to an eternity in hell...and there isn't even a hand basket, they are asking for it themselves!
Hell has been oversimplified in terms and context in modern day. Certainly, there are some words in the Hebrew and in the Greek that are representative of figures of speech surrounding hell, such as Gehenna, and Sheol, or even Hades (although this is a separate topic altogether); however, the term hell is not described as a figure of speech. The words are very descriptive, derogatory in nature, and very serious.
I was recently discussing this subject with a dear brother and friend, Don Blackwell, who does a really great job of presenting Biblical facts and living for World Video Bible School (http://www.wvbs.org). He pointed out something to me that I think we need to really navigate to and study very deeply.
He asked me to think about something in the context of the times that Jesus spoke of many things. Several times in the Bible, you can read of Jesus saying the words "is like" explaining how something is similar in nature, or should be similar to another event, item, or quality. (e.g. Matt 18:3, Matt 19:4, Matt 13:44, etc.). He uses a lot of this same teaching concept in the many Parables that He spoke.
Contrasting, Jesus never said "Hell is like..." He simply told the story the way that He wanted, and that is it! Take for example what Jesus said just two verses earlier in Matt 13:42 - "and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth." There is not a preceding "Hell is like..." or "throw them into an empty place that is like a fiery furnace." He told the epitome of hell as it is today, was then, and will be for an eternity.
Look how He describes the characteristics of the wretched place that those that practice continual sin will inherit in Rev 21:7 - "But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part [shall be] in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death." What a painful thought!
I am very thankful to brother Don for pointing this out to me in my studies on the "realness" of hell. Hell IS real. It is NOT a metaphor or simile, or fun place to visit...
Now, back to the point of this particular blog...
"I'd rather be in a volcano than...."
Sounds silly doesn't it. Friends, it is worse than that.
"I would rather be in hell than...."
It sounds destructive, deadly, and sad. Weeping and gnashing of teeth. Fire and brimstone. Eternal pain and suffering. Not a place that God, Christ, or the righteous will be found. It is HELL. Not hell on earth. Not just as good as a pine box in a heartache, or Dixie (although I love living in the area known to be close to Dixie!)
Please, I beseech you, if you have said such a comment, please consider repentance to the Father. If you feel that way because of some type of sin that you are committing and continue to commit, I also beg of you to consider your soul. Eternity is a long time to be trying to find someone to dip the cool of their finger on your thirsty tongue!!! (Luke 16)
Jesus Christ died for you and for me. He didn't die for an attitude of "Hell is where I belong and I am happy about it." He died so that we can be saved, living an eternity of bliss in heaven with Him and the Father. A joyous life, not one of torment.
Hell is serious...and I don't believe they serve Goolsby Sausage!
*Scripture comes from the ASV translation.