Sharing what you believe with someone who disagrees with you can be hard and often awkward. Many of us have felt the tension between the passionate Christian expressing Jesus’ undying (pun intended) love, and the apathetic “non-believer” that has been around the block long enough to know the fine print: if they don’t believe in Jesus they will be condemned to hell eternally. Hmm… Something isn't adding up here. In “Go to Hell,” Toby discusses a way to potentially reconcile this disconnect by presenting a challenging view of both the love of God and hell itself.

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I hate hearing, “Man, Jesus loves you and He wants you to be with Him forever. So just believe in Him today.”  It seems like such a sales pitch, or a bait-and-switch. Those types of deals never seem to turn out as great as they were presented.

Also, most people have learned enough about Christianity to know that if they don’t believe, then they will burn in Hell and torment forever. Is that love too? “You would send me there because I thought something different than you, Jesus?” Jesus’ love is more intricate for a couple of sentences to explain.

The fact is, Jesus’ love is really hard to accept, and it pretty much involves a future that doesn’t necessarily include having a Porsche or a great family or even people liking you. Believing in Jesus also starts with talking to an invisible stranger that people tell you died for you so you’ll have a mansion on gold streets after you’ve taken your dirt nap. It’s just not that simple to believe Jesus saved your ass.

Talking to a stranger? Isn’t that a no-no?

Our entire lives we’re told not to trust strangers, but that goes out the window with Jesus.  In fact, we’re told to completely give every part of us to Him. Christians love to tell folks that Jesus is good and He will change your life. We want people to see Jesus as he truly is; a friend, savior, and person who forgives. But if you haven’t experienced Him, then this could feel weird and even spooky.  We’ve all been told certain people are good, and then we’ve been screwed by those supposedly “good” folks.  Even if Jesus is good, I think most people have a few key questions they need answered:

Why would Jesus love me?

Why would He care?

Why would my being good or bad not matter? It matters in every other part of my life.

If I don’t believe what you say, won’t I end up in Hell?  Isn’t there fire there and something called ‘brimstone’? (What is ‘brimstone’ anyway? Sounds like something my mother-in-law would want to use as countertops in her kitchen.)

The answers to these questions are the hardest things to accept in the entire history of the world.

God created you to love you.  He created you for His own joy.  He created you to not be controlled by Him like an extension of His thoughts, but to be fully free to search and live in the world and hopefully find all the answers in Him.  He knew that you might not love Him in return, and that you might even choose to create your own more convenient ‘gods’. But to Him, your life is worth it, and He will love you regardless of any amazingly wonderful or horribly tragic things you do.

You are what God wanted to love. That is so hard to accept as the truth.

We all share that in common.  Someone just loving us simply because He wants to makes no sense. And the thing that we all face is that that kind of love is scary as hell; that no matter what, Jesus loves us freely. We can’t earn it?  We can’t prove we are worthy?

If you are a good person, a charitable person, a giver, a lover, a thief, a porn addict…. If you’re a slut, a pastor, a drug addict, a child molester, a mother, a father, straight or gay or asexual, if you were molested, if you hate people of different races, if you’re a liar, if you killed someone, even if you hate God, nothing can separate you from the love of Jesus.

But to accept that love means accepting your worthiness without being able to prove it. That idea of love is too free, so we don’t want it.  We struggle to accept a gift a we didn’t do anything to earn. In fact, the truth of that love is what makes Hell grow within us.

When we can’t accept that Jesus just loves us, and that by choosing to allow Him to love us we are actually being fully fulfilled as human beings, then we run from it, blame it, and hate it.  We stop giving things to God and try to handle them on our own. We think we can control our desires, health, money, and lives. We begin to try and fix ourselves and others so that we can prove we deserve to be loved.  Then, through our immaturity we turn the emotion of love into a god instead of God Himself. Our love becomes more and more about us, and not about what love was intended to be from the beginning.  Basically our love becomes something that must be obtained rather than something that is freely given.

We also love others this way and expect them to meet our standards of love.

When we can’t accept God’s love, we go to a place where His love can’t impact our hearts anymore.  We create a place that isn’t about Jesus at all, but about us.  A place we can go to get away from love that needs nothing.

We want a love that needs us; that loves us because we (fill in the blank).  We want a love that we earn.

A love that just loves doesn’t seem fair. A love that would die for us without asking for anything in return is not what our prideful hearts want. “Jesus, how dare you not love me for how I help the poor, needy, elderly, my friends, and my family? How dare you not let me earn love?  How dare you ask me to give in?”

“I will prove I deserve this love even if it takes an eternity. I think I’m right. I am right. I think You’re wrong.”

Sound rebellious? It is.

Any attempt to earn Jesus’ love is a declaration that your life and your ways are more righteous than His. Hell isn’t a place you get sent. It’s a place you prefer.

You don’t need proof. You don’t need a resume of deeds. You are already worth it.

You are loved.