If you were completely convinced that heaven and hell exist, and that there is only one way to inherit heaven and escape hell, would you tell people about it? Would you pray and work to help your family and friends come to know the truth? Or would you bury your head in the sand, and live life without any consideration for the eternal welfare of your loved ones?
And what about people you don't know? Would you have any interest in trying to get the word out to people you have never met? Would you want them to go to heaven and stay out of hell?
Think about it from our perspective. We didn't come up with the biblical message about heaven and hell. It was given to us. And we are convinced it came from God, and is therefore true.
We don't want people to go to hell to pay for their sins. We want everyone to go to heaven. And we wish we could honestly say, "Everyone will make it into heaven." But that's not the way things have turned out as a result of man's sin against God.
If you are an unbeliever, you may find yourself confused by the Christian message, and perhaps even resenting it. But that doesn't change what is real. And it doesn't change the fact that Jesus presented the truth about heaven and hell, as did the prophets and apostles who were inspired to write the Scriptures.
Think about it this way: If while walking down your street you saw a house on fire, would you call 911? And if you saw a child inside the front door who was scared and crying, would you run inside and snatch the child from certain death? If so, you are similar to a Christian in a few ways. You would do what you could to help rescue that child.
The Bible tells believers, "Snatch others from the fire and save them" (Jude 23). And so that's what we attempt to do, just like you would do if the circumstances called for such intervention. Unless of course you feel like you wouldn't enter the house to rescue the child. In that case, you still have a couple things in common with Christians: You were created by God, and you are a sinner.
It is easy to be critical of others. We have all done it. But that doesn't make it right, or helpful to anyone. Until we have walked in someone else's shoes, we may have no idea why they do what they do. And if we came to understand their motives and goals, we would probably look at them very differently.
The world today is filled with animosity and self-righteousness. That's because man is sinful and prone to giving into these defects. Each one of us experiences the pull of temptation in our heart. And it can make us callous and uncaring if we choose to look down on those with whom we disagree.
The solution? Well, we need the Lord of the universe to enter our hearts and minds with His goodness and grace. Once we come to appreciate the forgiveness of our own sins, we are free to be thankful for God's love. A spirit of gratitude is the only way to overcome the natural tendency to be critical of others.
While none of us can actually enter the mind of another human being, we can certainly ask God to make us more like Him. You see, God looks not only at who we are, but also at who we can become. And that includes you.
The next time you are tempted to look down on Christians for presenting the eternal message of the Bible, just remember why we do it. In spite of our numerous imperfections, we simply want to help others meet the Savior who loves them. Christ will care for their souls the way He cares for us. And I assure you, if you were in our shoes, you too would be inclined to spread the Word regardless of what people thought about you.
And you know what else? If we were in your shoes, we would likely be criticizing Christians for the message they present about heaven and hell. We wouldn't want to hear it. After all, who wants to hear the eternal doctrines of Scripture until the Holy Spirit convinces you that the message is true?
And once convinced, who in their right mind wouldn't want others to escape hell and gain heaven?
I remember a poll a few years back that revealed only one percent of Americans think they are going to hell. So what is the actual percentage of those going to heaven and those going to hell? Only the Lord knows which path each person is on today.
Christ addressed the issue this way: "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" (Matthew 7:13,14).
Was Jesus wrong to present this message? Or was He right to tell the truth, even though it goes against our natural assumptions about heaven and hell? In other words, would you rather know the truth while there is still time to accept Christ, or just go on assuming that only 1% of people go to hell. It's impossible to accept "the 1% theory" once you believe what Jesus said about the wide road and the narrow road.
So if you were in our shoes, would you tell people the truth about eternity?
The popular approach is to tickle ears with natural assumptions. The path of Christian discipleship, on the other hand, involves telling the truth. And the only reason we know the truth is because God gave us His Word, and Jesus spoke nothing but the truth while He was on earth. Without God's say on the matter, all we would have to go on is man's opinion.
But since God has so clearly spoken about matters as weighty as eternity in paradise and eternity in hell, we would be foolish to ignore His instruction and neglect His salvation. Knowing what we know, it would be wrong to keep quiet.