What have good people done to deserve Hell?

“Tell them as surely as I, the Sovereign Lord, am the living God, I do not enjoy seeing a sinner die. I would rather see him stop sinning and live” Ezekiel 33:11

Easy, Christians say. They haven’t accepted Christ as their Savior, therefore they deserve death. It’s easy to say it. But what if it happens to someone you knew, well aware that that person had given so much of his/her life to humanity: saving, serving, healing, caring, loving, educating, making people happy, and inspiring people with hope. In other words, they made the world a better place for us and for future generations. What a great and amazing person! This guy has lived his life to the full. He has done it all. He surely deserves the best.

Wait a second.

This person isn’t a believer because he has seen what religion does to people: narrows their vision, prevents them from thinking outside the box, and alienates them from their fellow human beings. What if this person wanted to be free from insularity, closed-mindedness, and detachment from human and scientific progress? Now, can we rightfully say that he/she was a bad person because he/she didn’t believe in the God you believe in?

Let’s get to the heart of the problem: Why doesn’t such a good person believe in God?

You could say that he wanted to exercise free thinking. Maybe he was disgusted by the countless pedophile cases brought against priests. Maybe he was disgusted by divisions in the Church. Maybe he was disgusted by the way Christians look at people who are ‘different’ from them in color, race, language, belief or lifestyle. The list is longer than you might think. The bottom line is that he/she stopped believing in God a long time ago mainly because of the image the Church radiates today.

A devoted Jewish family, whose father was a prosperous businessman, suddenly one Sunday morning decides to go to the Lutheran Church. His little boy asks him, “But why father? Why do we have to go to church today? Aren’t we Jews?” The father replies, “It’s good for business, son”. This little boy grew up declaring openly his disgust with religion. He was the one who said “Religion is the opium of the people”. Yes, he was Karl Marx! Who can say Karl Marx wasn’t a good guy? He had immense influence on philosophy, economy, politics and literature. But, yes, according to Christians he deserves Hell. Why?

He had plenty of time to believe in God, yet he didn’t. The question is: What are we doing to attract people to God?

St. Teresa of Avila writes, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours.” Indeed, as Christians we have work to do. We can’t just sit around complaining that people are leaving Christianity behind. We must be God’s true Church on earth.

People have personal, familial, societal frustrations and conflicts. They face daily economic, moral, sexual and psychological challenges. People have valid dilemmas that deserve the Church’s attention. Hearing the pastor preach about abortion, unemployment, adultery, cheating, homosexuality, drug abuse, pornography, Internet addiction, in-law frictions and other daily problems and issues people want to know about will get people closer to Christ! Many questions lie in people’s minds and it is the Church’s duty to answer them. We must have our say in this world. That is Jesus’ last and greatest Commission to the Church.

Indeed, Christ does not wish for people to be lost. He is happy when people serve humankind. After all people like Karl Marx have served humanity, Christ’s own creation. How sad do you get when you lose people you love, especially knowing that they hadn’t accepted Christ as their savior? I’m sure you must feel devastated. God gets even sadder than you. He feels pain more than you can ever imagine! He repeatedly tells us in the Bible how He doesn’t want people to “perish but to have everlasting life”. Timothy tells us, “It pleases God our Savior who wants everyone to be saved and to come to know the truth,” 1 Timothy 2:3-4.

This is not an invitation for the Church to change its values, absolutely not! On the contrary, the Church must talk boldly about today’s issues so that people get their questions answered. And this is how the Church will have a greater impact on peoples’ lives. This is why we are here for: to change people from deep inside so they can come to know Jesus and His wonderful message of salvation.

Next time you hear of a person’s death, don’t say “What a shame he died”. Rather say “What a shame, he could have been a Man/Woman of God”. In today’s troubled world, people need healing. People may seem happy on the outside, but the majority need healing from the inside. And it’s our duty as Christians to help them get that healing with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Be the light that will shine through humanity. Don’t just be a good person but a someone who will serve God no matter the cost. Remember, “The Lord does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants all to turn away from their sins,” 2 Peter 3:9.

Vahé Jébéjian