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In the end, it all comes down to a simple choice: either we say to God “Thy will be done”; or God will say to us: “Thy will be done.”  Either we choose an eternity with God, or we choose to live it without Him—God doesn’t send anyone to Hell. 

Hell is the fundamental choice to be the lord of our own lives, the god of our eternity, the captain of our soul.  It’s all about me.  By definition, this choice excludes real love—not only the God who is Love, but any other kind of genuine love—because, by its very nature, love is other-focused.  Hell, as I tried to illustrate in previous blogs, is miserable.  It’s total isolation; complete loneliness.  It’s just you—and anything you want—forever.  What could be worse?

In response to these blogs, someone asked the perfect question: “Why would anyone choose this isolation and misery?  Why would anyone choose Hell?”

John 3:16 is the best-known verse in Scripture: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that anyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”  If you read the rest of the passage, Jesus goes on to say that He didn’t come into the world to condemn it, but rather, to save it.  How wonderful!  Who wouldn’t want this salvation?  This is the best news ever!  But Jesus then adds that this is not how everyone will see it.  Some will reject Him because they prefer the darkness.  

Some will reject this amazing love of God and the salvation it brings because they prefer to be the captain of their own souls.

Like the person who asked this week’s question, I have a hard time understanding how anyone would reject such an irresistibly loving God.  He is so clearly the One our hearts long for most.  Why would anyone choose an eternity without Him? 

What Jesus says, though, is that, despite the misery it causes, we might prefer separation from God.  We might prefer Hell because at least there we can be our own god, we can be at the center of things, we can get what we want, we can have things our way.  We might prefer something more than His love.

Two examples drive home how this is possible. 

First, did you realize that we who are living in First World countries are living in the safest, most affluent, most comfortable period in history?  No other group of people has ever had it better.  And, thanks to technology, we have more ways to connect with more people than ever before—exponentially more. 

So why do people feel more isolated, lonely, and depressed than ever before—the problem has become so acute in the UK, the government has actually appointed a minister of loneliness to deal with the epidemic effects!    

While there are a number of contributing factors, the main reason is that we are choosing to isolate ourselves more than ever before.  Relationships are hard.  Face to face interactions require time and effort.  It’s so much easier to text or like someone’s picture on Instagram.  That way, we’re in control.  You can always ignore a text or scroll a little further down your newsfeed. 

If we’re honest, we prefer it this way.  We get to set the terms. 

I’m sure you’ve seen (or possibly have been) the couple or family out to dinner all looking at their mobile devices, not talking to the loved one right there in front of them.  Even though it’s isolating us more and more, insulating us from real, inter-personal interaction and making us miserable and lonely, we prefer the isolation to surrendering some of the control it gives us. 

Hell is just the final destination on this trajectory of self-imposed isolation.

The second is an example from C.S. Lewis’s masterpiece, The Great Divorce.  It’s about a group of souls in Hell who take a bus trip to Heaven.  They can stay in Heaven if they want.  However, all but one chooses to return to Hell.  The example that hits close to home for me is a theologian.  He devoted his earthly life to studying about God.  But, when he is actually presented with the opportunity to see God face to face, he balks!  He makes all kinds of excuses and finally declines, preferring instead to return to his studies in Hell. 

In the end, he loves studying about God more than loving God Himself! 

Is there something or someone in your life you love more than God?

There is a battle raging in our hearts, a battle for our souls, for our ultimate allegiance, our ultimate love.

If Hell is a choice, it seems like a no-brainer that we would all choose Heaven.  But, despite the misery of the self-imposed isolation of Hell, these examples make us frightfully aware of how easily we could end up preferring it.

The hard but undeniable truth is that our natural tendency is toward self-absorption.  As wonderful as union with a perfectly loving God seems, we are inclined to prefer ourselves to God.  And that means we’re caught on a trajectory toward Hell.

The only thing that can shake us out of this, the only thing that can turn us around, is being swept off our feet by God’s love.  The only thing that can save us is seeing the astounding depth of His love for us—the love which led Him to give up everything for us on the Cross. 

The love of Jesus is the only thing that can put us on a trajectory toward God. 

Do you think anyone chooses Hell?

Let me know what you think by going to the “Contact E.J.” page of the Raising Jesus website and leaving your comments there.  Also, please “Like” the Raising Jesus Facebook page, subscribe to the Raising Jesus YouTube channel, and tell your friends about us.  Thank you!

About Me

E.J. Sweeney is a true skeptic. He needs to see to believe. Hard Evidence. Compelling Proof. Solid Logic. This is what he believes in. In college, he encountered questions that the superficial faith he was raised on couldn’t handle. So he began a quest for Truth, a quest for the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

EJ Sweeney

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