Living in “hell”, here and now; and maybe not forever?

Christian denominations have two main views of hell. One extreme is, hell is where you go if you are bad, if you’re not good enough. The other extreme is, there is not a physical forever hell. Which is right? No one knows for sure.

From the first viewpoint, the belief is, either “You better do good, or else you’ll burn for all eternity.” Or, on a bit softer side, I want you to do better. I don’t want you to go to hell!” From the viewpoint of not believing in an afterlife of hell, that could cause a very destructive way of living. “If there isn’t a hell, then it doesn’t matter what I do here. I can do whatever I want.” It could also help us to live better lives here and now.

For me, I absolutely believe in hell! I believe in hell on earth. I do not believe in a physical hell where people burn forever. I believe that because of my understanding of God. I do not believe, an all-inclusive, unconditional God of love, especially portrayed in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, would turn vindictive and judgmental because we were not “good enough”. I believe that would contradict the Cross of Jesus Christ where Jesus atoned and forgave all sin (our “sin” of unbelief in God) and all “sins” (we commit against each other), forever! Without Jesus, we would not be “good enough”; because of Jesus, God sees us as "good enough", as the beloved children we all are, and always will be.

In my understanding of hell on earth, instead of saying, “You better do good, or else,” or, “I don’t want you to go to hell!” I would rather say, “I don’t want you to ‘live’ in hell!” Think about all the social, political, and religious “hells” we bring into all of our lives. Why do all those, always happen, affecting everyone, in body, mind, and/or spirit, daily? Because of our “sin”, causing all of our “sins”; creating way too many “hells” here on earth.

As God helps us to believe-in all God did for the world through Jesus, the Christ, so no one would go to a forever hell (which I truly hope there isn’t), or live in hell on earth (which I truly believe there is), what if we lived Jesus’ and God’s Love, for all? How much better would of our lives be, now, and forever?

As always, I welcome your comments. Simply click on the comment/no comment button.

How do we define God?

I believe how we answer that question will determine how we will live our lives. Here is a YouTube link for my answer - and the serious implications of how we define God:

As always, I welcome your comments and questions as together we strive to live the life of love God calls us to live. Simply click on the comment/no comment button.

The Importance of the Incarnation(s) of God!

Yes, you saw correctly, the incarnations, plural. We know the importance of Jesus being the incarnate Word of God; God becoming flesh, so the world could “see” the “truth” of God, of God’s love for the world (John 1:1-18). Then, throughout His life, Jesus let us “see” that truth by loving, caring, healing, feeding, accepting, welcoming, loving, and forgiving all people. I believe we “saw” Jesus’, God’s love best, from the Cross when He said, “Father, forgive them. For they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Yes, Jesus being the Incarnate Word of God is very important.

We believe Jesus, God, created everything (John 1:1-5) “out of nothing” (Genesis 1:2), and God said it was all, “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Because God created everything, all of creation, is a part of God; hence, maybe, all creation was the First Incarnation of God. If that is so, God’s kingdom is everywhere. Maybe that is why Jesus spoke often about “God’s kingdom has come near” and “the kingdom of God is like…”. Then, again, as stated above, Jesus, the incarnate Word of God, lived God’s kingdom of love for all.

Then, after His resurrection and before He ascended, Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into His disciples; calling and forming them to be The Church, to continue to help all people “see” God’s kingdom of love in every “thing” and every person. If so, the Church would be the Third Incarnation of God.

As important as it was for Jesus to be the Incarnate Word of God, for all to see and know God’s Love for the world, I like the idea about the possible two other Incarnations of God. I believe it is important for us see the world, as the First Incarnation of God, to know God is a part of everything. That understanding gives us a new and greater aspect on our original calling to be stewards, caretakers, of all creation (Genesis 1:28). As we learn to believe that, then we, The Church, as the Third Incarnation of God, will have a greater sense of urgency to live God’s love.

Why? As we know, our world, needs, more “Incarnational” love, to give us all more hope and peace. As the Incarnate Church of Jesus Christ, what if, we could see, as God sees? What if we could help all people “see” as God’s “sees” everything? I truly believe our world would be more loving and a much better place to live. That is what we strive to teach, preach, and live at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Nashville. Come join us, in-person or online, as we strive to bring God’s “Incarnational” love into our world.

As always, I welcome your comments and questions. Simple click on the comment/no comment button.

Solving all the destructive issues of life!

During our Faith-Formation Sunday School Class we discuss many life/faith issues. Today, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, we discussed the very volatile issue of abortion. We discussed both sides. A comment was made, I wish we had the answer to solve the abortion issue and all social issues.

I made the comment, we can, and that is our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ. With our belief in God, as a God of love, for all, with our belief of God knowing and forming us while in the womb (if not knowing us from before the creation of the world), and with our view of all people created in God’s image of love, if we could learn to see people, all people, as God sees everyone, as beloved children, we would not have those destructive issues.

However, we don’t live in utopia. We live in the broken world, we created; a world filled with greed; a world filled with worshiping the unholy trinity of me, myself, and I; all to have power and control over others; causing all the destructive social, political, and religious issues in our lives.

        To prove the truth about our broken world, filled with hate, when Jesus came to teach us God’s love, and lived that love for all, the world, we, murdered Him, so we could maintain our power and control. What did God, Jesus do? God raised Jesus to life again, vindicating His life. What did Jesus do? He did not get even with the world. Jesus continued to love, forgive, teach, heal, feed, welcome and accept the world that crucified Him. Jesus, God, continued to teach us how to love and not hate.

The Beatles had it right in their song, “All you need is love”; so did John Lennon in his song, “Imagine.” If we could learn to live “love”, for all, “imagine” what our lives and world could look like? With all the destructiveness in our world, how can we not?

With our new, “Caring Ministry Vision and Expectation” initiative at St. John’s, we are striving to help us know and live God’s love for all. Come join us as we strive to live God’s love for all. If you have any questions or comments, please click on the comment/no comment button. comment/no comment button.

What Christians are called to do.

Being a Christian vs. Being a Follower of Christ?

I believe that is a very real question. You might think, there is not a difference. Christians, by definition, are followers of Christ, right? If that is so, why do so many Christians either promote, or do not speak out against, the social issues of poverty, homelessness, racism, sexism, antisemitism, homophobia, xenophobia, gun violence, and a host of way too many other prejudices promoting hate and wall building separation?

As we read the gospel accounts of Jesus, my question is, “When did Jesus, ever, NOT, speak out against ALL social, racial, political, and religious walls of exclusion and hate? Jesus, throughout His ministry, strove to break down ALL walls of separation! At the same time, He always promoted: inclusion, welcoming, accepting, loving, and forgiving of all people. That was best seen on His Cross when Jesus forgave the world - for killing him; “For God so loved the world”, all people!

Unfortunately, it seems hate, exclusion, and wall building sells more, than love. As “followers” of Christ, believing God, Jesus, created all people in God’s image, of love, what could our world look like if we followed Jesus’ example and command to live God’s love for all? As much as it doesn’t “sell”, the time is right, the time is now, to learn and live God’s love for all to bring us all more hope and more peace.

As always, I welcome your comments. Simply click on the comment/no comment button.