8/27/16 Mark about 45
Yesterday, in response to my question about what happens after we die, I received an answer full of “f-words”. Mark, a mechanic, said “It doesn’t f’n matter what happens after we die. I went to f’n church, went to f’n CCD, I’ve f’n been there done that, and now I’m never f’n goin’ back because I don’t f’n care.” This was said in a way that wasn’t meant to show me anger or disrespect for having asked the question, but to emphasize the opposite – that he really, really doesn’t care. But why? I took a chance and made a prediction – “The reason you don’t care is because, if it came down to it, you really believe you will go to heaven. You don’t think you need to worry about it. But Jesus said that the road to destruction is wide and many are on it – even though they may not realize it - but the road to eternal life is narrow and few are on it.”
I was right. Mark comes across as pretty rough around the edges to be sure, but sees himself as having changed his ways since the buck wild days of his youth. He credits his wife for helping him turn his life around. Now he earns a responsible living, says he believes in God and thinks God would say he has good intentions, despite his disregard for religion and church. Worrying about the possibility of hell after he dies is simply not on his radar screen, so he can afford to covey a tough guy image of “don’t care” bravado.
But should Mark care about the possibility of hell? Should we? Jesus certainly does. In the Gospels, Jesus spoke more of warnings of the punishment for sin and the reality of hell than he spoke about heaven. I didn’t believe this when I first heard this claim. I had read the Bible for years, but because I didn’t think hell could fit within my narrative of a loving God I had ignored and forgotten the bad news about hell and focused on the good news of heaven. Then I responded to the claim and did a quick reading of the four Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John –taking notes and comparing those passages that spoke of judgment and punishment and those that spoke of the blessings of heaven. I was so shocked at what I saw that it changed my life and my focus in sharing the Gospel. I realized that people like Mark can’t afford not to care, and neither can we.