Blessed Are the People - Advent Day 12
It Is in Dying that We Are Born

So, You Think This Is Hot!

Heat wave

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. - 2 Peter 3:10

Years ago, in the heat of summer, I passed a church board with this sign, “So, you think this is hot …”

I presume it was an advertisement for a sermon on hell and now an ad for hell itself.

There are scriptural references to a judgment that none will want to face. It is a fire that leaves nothing behind but torment like the ruins of some of our towns that have been leveled by wildfires.  I actually know very little about it and, contrary to many preachers, the Bible does not get very consistently specific about it, but it burns stuff and it brings a loss of things we have falsely valued.

What the Bible does teach is that it brings God no joy. It offers no relief. God is a God of gain and not loss. The big loser in any wasted life is God.

God's desire is to gather all people into one family of love and joy forever, with lives being live purposefully and fully in this world. God's vision is for us to be building a great city of justice and peace, led by the Logos who tented among us.

But here is the fire of final recompense, the necessary resolution of history, the day of disposition when all that is evil is destroyed .

What becomes of  all who choose to align themselves fully with evil and reject God’s passionate overtures of grace, mercy, and forgiveness?

No decent preacher, filled with the Spirit can preach on such  fire with glee or satisfaction. As it breaks the heart of God, so it breaks the heart of the man or woman of God, but truth must be told. There are consequences to sin and rebellion.

Either we say to God, "Thy will be done," or God says to us, "Thy will be done."

Again, this is all a great mystery to me, but God does not seem to force the best on any of us.

Even Christians are investing in things that will not last.

We have embraced the folly of the world and its ways and are being saved, ‘yet so as by fire,” with the flames leaping up beneath our feet.  We have complained about the heat of the day and have retreated to our air-conditioned comfort zones while souls languish with the heartburn of despair.

Meanwhile, we do not work up a sweat to rescue one more from flame or flood or foolishness? Couldn’t we suffer a bit of inconvenience to save help someone who is already melting in the flames of aimless frustration?

There is so much good we could be doing in this world as a testimony to what we have come to believe and the truth that has transformed us. It is the work that makes our message credible.

Jesus has done to hard part. All we have to do is tell.  We deliver the good news that all is forgiven and hope has come. Do we truly believe in a concept of lostness? Do we genuinely affirm that the gospel that we have received has something to offer others? Do we actually have a conviction that lives and communities can have a change of direction?

I am not talking about recruitment, coerced conversion, pressure prayer, accumulation of numbers, notched on a spiritual pistol, obnoxious evangelistic techniques, condemnation, or proselytization. One can be a vibrant, visible, verbal witness without being preachy or manipulative.  It starts by being authentic and caring for people where they are and as they present themselves.

It continues with listening, dialogue, sharing 0f life and respect.

Without those qualities, it is just sales and marketing. It is not the sharing of good news.

In a world of sin where lives are so tormented and lost, it is almost easier to believe in hell than Heaven because we witness and have experienced the hell of alienation and hopelessness ourselves.

Do a survey. Ask random people about their outlook and perception of hope.

People are saying, "Go to hell" on the streets daily.

No one, moved by the Spirit of God wants or says that!

It is the intervention of grace to introduce hope to hopeless humanity. ask them what they think should happen to their worst enemy. Ask people if they think everything is getting better or worse.

When souls are lulled into a stupor of mindless ignorance to truth, the Day of the Lord will always come as a thief in the night. Yet we seem to forget the price that has been paid and the wonder of the salvation we have been given.

Even as the heat of summer rises, we live our lives unaware that we have been redeemed from fire and through fire. We owe none of it to ourselves. It was a gift we did not deserve and its message is one that has been entrusted to us for others.

So, you think this is hot?

Turn the heat up another notch and show and tell the world that Jesus' love is bigger than anyone's hate.

God's grace is greater than anyone's evil or regret.

Eternal hope overshadows any message of doom.

There is a fire that burns to warm the soul and ignite the spirit to joy.

Life is short. Our opportunities to make life count are time-lined. The message of the good news is always marked, “URGENT!”