What if the threat of hell no longer existed? Would there be any point of spreading the message of Christ?
It’s a question worth asking because frankly, hell just doesn’t scare people anymore. And maybe that’s okay, because sustained fear is not a great motivator. Oh it’s good for the short term urgent stuff, like running from wild rhinos, but on a daily basis it doesn’t work so well. In fact it makes us crazy and if it gets bad enough we go to the doctor for medication.
It certainly doesn’t inspire nobility.
Think about it. Do the following statements really make any sense?
I’m going to feed the hungry, tend the sick, and love my neighbor because I don’t want to go to hell.
I sing joyful hymns to God because I don’t want to go to hell.
In prayer, I share the depths of my soul with God because I don’t want to go to hell.
It doesn't surprise me that our society turns a deaf ear to a fear-based religious message. And that’s a problem because avoiding hell has always been our big selling point. If people aren’t motivated by fear anymore, why become a Christian?
“Okay Pastor. If there is no fear of hell, what motivates people?”
Great question. Glad you asked. Consider the following as a partial reply:
How about finding wholeness where you experience the full activation of your being? How about trading self-indulgent misery for adventurous living for the sake of goodness? How about finding a strength that sustains you even when you feel your weakest? How about finding hope and values that guide you? How about living in a Presence that completes us, unites us, and heals us?
Is all this laid at your feet the moment you accept Christ into your heart? Well, no. But the path is set before you. And you can leave certain baggage behind, one of which is fear of hell.
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18).