2/6/13 Sally about 40
A woman named Sally at Starbucks was deeply engrossed in the latest Ken Follett novel, but I took a chance that she might agree to answer a question about her spiritual beliefs – “What is your take on life after death? What do you think comes next?” “Well I’m saved, so I believe I will go to heaven” she replied. “I hope you don’t mind if I ask, but people use that term a lot. When you say that you are saved, what are you saved from?” “Dying, I guess. I don’t know. I believe in heaven, but I don’t think there is such a thing as hell. I try not to think about it. What good does it do? I just try to be like Jesus.” I asked about her experiences, how she had been saved, which was at her Methodist church when she was 14. Sally now attends a community church that, when I checked out their beliefs on their website, makes no mention of hell or God’s judgment in any form. She is involved in their evangelism program whose strategy is to reach people through relationships and acts of kindness, so we had a friendly discussion about our differing approaches to sharing the Gospel. I told her how I had tried her approach for many years, always with the hope that non-Christians would respond to my friendship and kindness and ask me about my faith. I expected them to take the initiative, but it rarely happened. Then I was challenged to be the one who takes the initiative, to “go” and be a fisher of men. And I was challenged to give people the whole truth – not just the hope of heaven but warnings of hell also. “What really convinced me” I told her, “was hearing that Jesus spoke more about God’s judgment and hell than he spoke about heaven. I couldn’t believe it until I actually read through the four gospels to see for myself, taking notes as I went. I was amazed to find out that it is true. I wondered why the Old Testament is relatively quiet about the subject until Jesus taught so extensively on it. Then I realized that the same Jesus who warned people of hell was the very One who gave His life to save us from going there.” Jesus helped people know why they need a Savior. So too the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus said he would send in John 16: “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment”. If we want to “be like Jesus”, shouldn’t we do the same?