Let me tell you what I don’t know about hell:
I don’t know if this hell the Good Book tells us about is a literal place or a metaphorical mystery; an eternal torment or temporal purgatory. I don’t know if there will be blackness and brimstone, flesh-eating flames, teeth-gnashing, weeping or loneliness big enough to block every kind of light. I don’t know if it’s none of those things at all, or something totally other and unfathomable. You won’t see me stomping my foot down or dying on a hill of hell-certainty. I am okay with not knowing or “landing” because I believe unequivocally in God’s goodness (mercy and justice). How that ends up being defined, I can’t imagine from within the confines of my finite mind. So, can I gently ask you to spare me your scriptures? I revere, honor and take each one very seriously, but I’ve already pondered every hell-related text you could speak my way. And I’ve heard the verse-backed-arguments for and against this point-of-hell-view or that point-of-hell-view and neither is the actual point I’m looking for. Because anyone can reinforce their arguments with carefully selected Bible-lines, hmm? And additionally claim that God directly confirmed their beliefs through the Spirit during last Sunday’s quiet-time – an old Christian trick, often used for the purpose of proving ourselves “right” about something.
(This isn’t to say that I don’t have my leanings or understandings or [indefinite] beliefs about life on the other side of the grave for the [un]believer, cause I do. But that is for another post perhaps . . . or, not. Because I just said that wasn’t the point for me, eh?)
Let me tell you what I do know about hell:
I know that hell is a real place and real people live in it. Every. Damn. Day. Right here, right now, hell is on this earth for scores and scores of humanity.
Suffering and oppression are ageless and dreams die with each tick-tock of the ancient clock. Every 3 seconds a child starves to death, but not before their bellies burned in agony for Lord knows how long. We have emergency rooms that ring with wailing and prison cells institutionalizing the ugliness of tormented convicts. Crusades and concentration camps and Tutsi’s and Hutu’s and LRA-type movements represent age after age of mass annihilation and bloodletting savagery. The list of depravity and stupor is endlessly long, from domestic violence to divorce courts to school shootings to the men who rape little boys and girls right down the road from where you live and around the whole world, taking their childhood in a single sickening stride and I wish to God for a swift and harsh judgement for such evil . . . But, I am not the Savior and I do not know how wide His eventual mercy or restorative justice is . . . (Not many of us want Grace to be big enough for Hitler-types, or believe that Jesus could still catch such men before they fall into an eternal customized torture chamber.)
THIS orbiting globe is Gehenna and who will stop the spinning of madness? There are hordes of earth-dwellers who don’t need their carcasses hauled off to hell because they’re already hounded by Hades hour after hour after hour; their daily lives dripping with demonized distortions. And we should go to hell regularly, too, just knowing our brothers and sisters are licked and scorched by life-fire, their souls being burned down to nothing more then a pile of ash inside a structure of skin and skeleton; “the walking dead” you may as well call them.
The hell Jesus came to save people from is perhaps the hell of our own making and the only hell we should be troubled with right now. I, for one, will say it again: I am not concerned with the heated dialog over what future hell may or may not be. I’m for being a vessel by which God saves broken and burnt people from the hell they’re living in right now (by doing so, will we not also impact the age to come?). I am for the message that saves me from the westernized hell of complacency, numbness and distraction.
That’s the point I’m looking for. Will you? And I? Choose to bring heaven in the midst of people’s hell? Will we make hell our workplace? In any and every or maybe in just one [more] single way? We, in the name of Jesus, could see an end to affliction and anguish and I do not design my words to pile you high with guilt. Goodness, NO! None of us need more guilt on our proverbial plates. I’m not asking that anyone live in daily dread or spend every waking moment being reminded of the hell in full circle around us, but when it is that time for you imagine hell, let it be the one you can actually touch, like the homeless man’s shoulder or a widow’s emptiness. Let’s defuse the I-don’t-believe-this-or-that-about-hell argument – the argument we can’t win – that distracts us from being ministers to people who daily live a hurting and harmed existence.
Speaking of . . . and more importantly, have you heard of The Exodus Road? This is an organization that makes hell their business. The Exodus Road is a network of investigative organizations who work and exist to fuel the rescue of victims of sexual slavery. Operating primarily in Southeast Asia, they are currently working with 15 operatives, representing seven different investigative organizations. Collectively, their team’s past experience has played a role in the rescue of over 600 victims and the prosecution of nearly 350 legal cases. (You can read more about their numbers here.) They believe that a major component of fighting human trafficking and child slavery lies in working with local law enforcement to find situations of trafficking and to then assist in the rescue of victims and the prosecution of criminals. By decreasing the profitability of the trafficking industry for the criminal, we will eventually slow the mechanisms that make the exploitation of women and children so lucrative.
The investigators for The Exodus Road are the heros of today, storming the seedy trenches of hell night after night to gather evidence, build cases, make raids, rescue victims . . . In response to a invitation from my friend, Laura Parker, and the good folks from The Exodus Road, I have chosen to become a voice for the voiceless, sharing the stories of vulnerable and abused children who live in the hell we know of as the modern day sex-slavery industry. This is my “just one [more] single way.” Would you check them out today? Maybe ( or – please, YES and “Thank you!!!!”) make a donation and when you’re done, “LIKE” them on Facebook!