Monday, September 3, 2012
When Jesus states in John 3:16 that everyone who believes in him should not perish, he is referring to hell. The short one chapter book of Jude likens unbelievers as clouds without rain blown along by the wind, foaming wild waves of the sea, and wandering stars for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. Jesus tells of a rich man in hell who attempted to appeal to a beggar in heaven for relief, but the chasm between the two was impenetrable. It’s thought provoking to consider that if you were born in this great country of America, you are considered as rich by most of the world. One of the best definitions I’ve come across regarding the concept of hell is simply eternal separation from the love of our creator. We know that nature abhors a vacuum and once goodness is removed, evil replaces the void. Once light is removed, darkness fills the void. Jesus tells us that he is the light of the world.
One of the greatest benefits of being born in this age is our ability to fly into the heavens aboard commercial airplanes. On many occasions I’ve walked into an airport on a bleak and dismal winter’s day where the sky was overcast and dark. But just minutes later I was airborne and breaking out of the dense cloud cover into brilliant sunshine and dazzling white clouds that are illuminated from above. That experience is always a reminder that even on our darkest days, there is always a light presence even though there may be obstacles that obscure it from us at the time. And a normal night sky generally reveals the reflection of the sun from our moon as the earth completes another rotation on its axis and we are reminded that the light is still present.
I’m reminded of the human issue of SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s now an acknowledged disorder that affects many of us in varying degrees during seasonal changes where sunlight is withdrawn from our presence. It manifests itself in the human psyche as a depressed feeling of hopelessness. The most common prescribed treatment for SAD is exposure to a bright light. One of the oldest questions asked by inquiring minds is “why would a loving God condemn someone to an eternal life of darkness in a state called hell”? The short answer is that he doesn’t—they volunteer. When the chosen people of Israel turned their back on God, His response was to simply respond in kind and withdraw his protection. Jesus says that in the final day, some will be confronted with the admonition, “I never knew you. Away from me.” Once we have breathed our last, our book of life is closed and the light may be extinguished forever. But there will be no need for a sun or a moon in the new earth, for God’s light will be then be present and unobscured forever.