Hell.

Yesterday an atheist told me he thought it was “arrogant and offensive” to believe in Hell.

Funny, I thought, hell is hard to miss. It has left clues to its existence scattered throughout history.

Genocide is hell.
Pestilence is hell.
Racism is hell.
War is hell.
Abortion is hell.
Child abuse is hell.

These things are not hell in it’s entirety, just clues to it’s easy reality.

Here’s how I would put it–somewhere there is a garbage dump where my personal trash goes. Every week on a certain day a big noisy truck comes and takes away my garbage, my neighbor’s trash, the neighborhood garbage, the city refuse.

I have never seen the landfill, don’t even know where it is located exactly, but the trash, the cans, the truck, and my municipal payment for “garbage collection” all suggest somewhere there is a dump for our foul-smelling discards.

Hell means “garbage dump.” It seems to me the arrogant and offensive thing is to disregard the trash, the stink, the truck, and the brave Man who comes and takes it all away and refuse to see what is clearly apparent–I do not take away my own garbage. Someone does it for me.

Make no mistake. It has been years and years of faithful service and I have never taken the Trash Collector for granted.

How could I? I need him so.

A Simple Plan

This has happened more than once.

I sit next to an adult and give them a version of my reasons for writing and they share their story.

This one involved mental illness, alcoholism, a tragic death and an injunction against talking about the truth. Children were made to bear witness to a terrible story and then could never talk about what they had experienced.

Mind-bending. And the norm. Most adults not only do not allow children to verbally process traumatic events, they often suppress these stories.

Incredibly destructive. No matter how tough, embarrassing or difficult the event, every child deserves a voice–a safe place to tell their tale of woe.

Otherwise the wound itself is exacerbated by the additional loss of trust in the grownups whose job it was to protect us.

Imagine Injustice

Imagine human values were marsupial–clinging to each of our heads.

One man would walk from his house to his car with animal lust clinging to his shiny pate. Another would shuffle to the mailbox as pride monkeyed with his ears.

Sure, some people’s resident animals would be symbiotic–well-mannered love, or the singing bird of truth, but far more would stagger about assiduously nursing their prejudices, manipulations, and vice.

Now imagine you are a child–astounded and a little afraid. All these nattering animals clinging to the necks of grownups! You eye them warily. Maybe dare eventually to raise a question or two–who are they? Why do they stay?

When you do. When you do the parents, aunts, uncles, neighbors look at you blankly-what are you talking about? There are no animals here.

God’s House

Do you believe in God?
Does He believe in you?
Do you know His love?
And what are the rules of Love
In the house of God
We commonly call
Heaven.

Revelation 22:12-14,21 (NIV)
“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. [13] I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. [14] “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. [21] The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.

Joe Stalin with an S on his chest

You will forgive me if I sound like a broken record. I am haunted by two things–the brokenness of history and the voice of Jesus.

There are times in every culture and in the current of human events when a lot of people get things very wrong. And when they do they are self-righteous and smug.

Some painful examples–

Joseph Stalin was treated as a valuable leader and friend by the west while he was making deals with Hitler and starving and torturing his own people. The men who decried his behavior and warned of his psychopathy were suppressed.

For years the US allowed an entire people group to be raped, tortured, pillaged, and sold like cattle and justified this abuse in the name of God.

Oh, wait…that happened several times, didn’t it?

The Holocaust? That was a lot of quiet Germans.

And let’s face it, America’s entire foreign policy for the last few decades….

We back thugs and look the other way when they hurt people.

Humans are broken
History is broken.
We can’t fix it
We need a Savior.

But when he comes he will indeed raise the dead.

Equality! And the wrong sides of history

Let’s say, just hypothetically, that you arranged a legal transaction with a person who turned out to be immoral, abusive, felonious. Now suppose after years of attempting to do your best to hang on to the relationship you are forced into the difficult decision of protecting yourself–from abuse.

Now consider two potential wrinkles to this scenario:

You are a child and your “legal partner” is an adult.

Or….

You are a parent and your “legal partner” is a dangerous minor.

In the first scenario children are at the mercy of a legal system that does not want to intervene on their behalf. Why? Money, Oh, and maybe discomfort. But there is a third option–older people get significantly reduced sentences or no punishment at all for serious or deadly crimes against children because children do not have equal protection under the law.

They do not have equivalent civil rights.

And parents of mentally ill or abusive teens? Just try finding legal protection from abuse. It would make sense to simply call the police when a crime occurs, but parents are on their own if their abuser is their own child.

The law should be the arena of protection for a civilized society, but the murders of Thomas More and Dietrich Bonhoeffer were legal. We are not only as good as the laws we enact; we are only as just as the ones we choose to enforce.

Immoral laws, immoral judges, and myopic citizens make for a country where a baby can be shot in the face on the street and a distracted nation thinks it is a brave new world for futzing over the sexual practices of adults.

Oh, yeah…Brave New World.. Thank you, Mr. Huxley, for giving us all a prophetic heads up on how all this will end.

How do you that?

Mark 8:35-37 (NIV)
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. [36] What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? [37] Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

I was young–early 20s, and my idea of gaining the whole world was laughably pedestrian–love. I wanted true love.

But God was making it painfully clear that He wanted me to walk away from my dream. He wanted me to be lonely and go far from home. Ugh. I was afraid.

But I was miserable resisting Him. I finally knuckled under–I agreed to try to find a job teaching in China. I agreed, then hoped it was just a test.

Nope. It was the real thing. I went to China and learned that He was all I needed–I wasn’t lonely, I was with Him. He brought me amazing friends. He took care of me. He taught me to stick close.

Sticking close to Jesus is costly. People don’t always think you are a great party guest when you bring Jesus with you. He tends to push uncomfortable issues.

Yet there is a secret: if you are willing to be a loser for him, he…

Gives you true love.

He sent me to China in order to prepare me to get the very precious gifts that I thought he wanted to take.

Go ahead. Try it.
Fall
In love
With Jesus.

Jump in.