Chapter 5 – What Does This Have to do With Me?
The question we need to ask about hell, then, is what does any of this have to do with me? Surely, hell is all about non-Christians, not Christians. Why do we really need to understand this? Obviously, there is the whole idea of evangelism. We need to be going out and warning those who are in danger. This we know, but what about personally? This is a huge difficulty for most people.
To help us answer that question, Chan takes us to one of the most frightening passages in the Bible. It is in Matthew 7 that Jesus tells us “many” will think they are on their way to Heaven, will stand before Jesus on the Day of Judgment, and be in for a huge surprise. They will tell Jesus all about what they did in His name, but will not be allowed into His eternal Presence. Why? Jesus will tell them the answer: “I never knew you.”
So the question on every person’s heart should be this: “Am I one of the ‘many’ who will stand before Jesus, and still be sent away. You see, it’s to those who claim to be following God to which almost every passage concerning hell is directed. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t talk about it to non-believers, but that we need to make sure we have ourselves together first. So Chan takes another look at some of these passages in the New Testament on hell, and tells us to spend some time examining ourselves.
One passage where Jesus is talking about judgment and hell is in the context of Jesus helping a Roman soldier. Here Jesus is marveling at the faith of this one man, while the Jews were the ones looking down their noses at the Romans, yet still lacked faith themselves. This, Chan tells us, is a sign of racism, which clearly the Jews suffered from in that day. The racism had nothing to do with skin color; the Jews simply believed they were better than others, because God had chosen them. This racism was going to cause them to be destroyed. Jesus says “many will come from the east and the west, and will take their place at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” The Kingdom of God has to do with faith, not race.
Chan talks about the need to reach out to those in need. The longest teaching of Jesus concerning Judgment Day has to do with this. It is those who gave water to the thirsty, visited those in prison, and so forth. We are called to reach out to the poor, and not caring for people in need is a sign that my faith is false and my religion is dead.
He then points his finger at people like me; those who are called to teach and preach. In James, Jude and II Peter, the warning is given to those who are false teachers. The tongue is a powerful tool for the Kingdom of God, but it is also powerful for the kingdom of Satan. There are warnings given throughout the Bible of the calling and responsibility God has given teachers and preachers, and therefore the judgment which will fall on them if they are negligent in what they say.
Finally, there are the lukewarm. Drawing from the letters to the churches in Revelation, Chan points out the danger of being lukewarm. The problem is that most people aren’t concerned with this, and are in fact enjoying their lukewarm Christianity. He points out that this is a huge problem in America today. “We have become dangerously comfortable—believers ooze with wealth and let their addictions to comfort and security numb the radical urgency of the gospel.” (pg. 124)
The danger is we will become so comfortable with our Christianity, that we won’t look to these passages and more which warn those who claim to be followers of Christ, yet are living as people of the world. We are the ones to whom most passages of hell are directed.