On this, the day we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., the man that helped to end racial segregation in America, I want to talk about another type of segregation, one that keeps us from engaging the mission work of Jesus and keeps other from entering his kingdom. I call it separation.
This will be the last post about “hell.” Here are links to part 1 and part 2. In these previous posts I contend that due to the fact that there is no place in the seen and unseen realms of creation in which God is not present there then cannot be a hell in which people are separated from his presence forever. Now we must look at what it means to be separated from God and what this belief in separation means in terms of our daily lives.
There are two types of separation, spatial and relational. Spatial separation is simply when two people do not share the same space or each other’s presence by proximity. Relational separation is when an offense, a breach, flat out animosity exists between two persons. In the case of the unbeliever and God, it is sin that separates. Colossians 1:21, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” The Four Spiritual Laws describes sin as self-will, “characterized by an attitude of active rebellion or passive indifference.” If we die in this condition of relational separation, that same separation will continue in the after life. The reason I say that I don’t believe in “hell” is because Christianity has made it a location and developed a belief that the relational separation experienced in this life will be altered into a spatial one as well. My contention is that God’s presence is everywhere, even in the condition of the after life known as hell. * To me it is an inconsistency unbefitting our God.
Now for my concern even greater that the one above. What is the effect of such a doctrine on the life of the believer, a doctrine in which unbelievers are condemned to an existence devoid of God’s presence? It is just like the segregation that Dr. King fought in the 1960’s. Over the centuries, Christianity has developed a culture, like any other culture with its own set of practices, expectations, and boundaries that end up excluding those who need Jesus most of all. Every Christian club (church) has its in’s and out’s. They will differ between clubs, but there is still the us and the them. If there was one thing that Jesus did during his rabbinical career, it was to break down the barriers to the kingdom. Though our creeds deny it, our actions confirm that we don’t believe in hell on a practical basis, otherwise we too would lay down our cultural barriers to embrace the kingdom, allowing Jesus to build his church amongst us. If we believe that the life after this life matters today, we would look beyond our cultural concerns (individually and collectively) to a society that is with Jesus and those he is calling, regardless of their culture background. We are and will be forever one in Christ. Just as Martin Luther King, Jr. sought to end racial segregation, let us seek to end kingdom separation, so that as many people as possible would not detest God’s eternal glory but will rather enjoy his presence forever.
Grace and peace,