…if you say, “You fool,” you will be liable to the hell of fire. (Mt. 5:22)
Hell is hard to think about. Is it a place we choose, or a place we’re sent? Do we have a chance to repent after this life? Is it a crowded place, or nearly empty?
Although I don’t know the answers to these questions, I do know that hell can be here and now.
Hell is being unable or refusing to love or be loved. Hell comes when we nurse our grievances, fuel our resentments, feed our jealousies. Hell comes when we make other people or other things our god, rather than the living God. Hell comes when we choose meanness over kindness, deceit over honesty. Hell comes when we don’t have a reason to live, a cause bigger than our petty concerns, a mission to help others.
I don’t know about the hell of hereafter, but I do know that if we find ourselves in hell now, we can pray to Jesus to vanquish our darkness, free us from bondage, and end our misery. Hell need not be our life now; it need not be our future. Jesus is the way out. If we lay our lives and futures into the hands of Jesus we need never fear hell. Jesus’ love is stronger and deeper than any hell.
In the above line from Matthew, Jesus says that when we call another person a “fool” we are liable to the judgment of hell. Jesus is so severe because He doesn’t want us to scorn or despise another child of God, which is what we do when we call another person a fool.
If we think we can live this life without the grace of Jesus, or if we think we can entrust our eternal life to our own merits, we wouldn’t be wrong to call ourselves a “fool.”
So, I encourage us to not be a fool—choose Jesus. I also encourage us to stop calling others such names—remember they too are the children of God.
When we choose Jesus and when we honor others as our sisters and brothers, we need never fear hell. Jesus is the way out of hell now and forever.
- If indeed hell can be here and now, have you ever experienced it? Are you there now? If so, do you trust that Jesus is the way out?
- Some families, sadly, tend towards, even breed, hellish environments. Was this true in your family? If so, what are you doing to recover from such circumstances so that you don’t pass them on to others?
- If hell is the absence of love and hope and joy, what hell-busting, hell-eliminating work could Jesus be calling you to do?