It’s no secret that folk get uncomfortable when a pastor preaches for the altar call.
I mean, people get all squirmy thinking about the night before at the club and conviction besets paranoia with thoughts like, “I just know Pastor saw me there last night” and “God probably told him I was there.”
Only 59% of Americans believe in hell, compared with 74% who believe in heaven, according to the recent surveys from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
That makes sense. Believing in heaven despite a relationship with Christ means you may still get to hang out by the Pearly Gates. No sweat, so back to the crack house you go. However, people don’t want to believe in hell because what if… you know, we’re right and they’re not. Whoops.
So, why aren’t more pastors preaching those cherished brimstone messages of yesteryear? It’s just not “in”?
The Rev. Fred Johns, pastor of Brookview Wesleyan Church in Irondale, Ala., said after a workshop discussion of hell that pastors do shy away from the topic of everlasting damnation. “It’s out of fear we’ll not appear relevant,” he said. “It’s pressure from the culture to not speak anything negative. I think we’ve begun to deny hell. There’s an assumption that everybody’s going to make it to heaven somehow.”
Somewhere, Carlton Pearson is giggling like a schoolgirl who got checked “Yes” in study hall for the quiz, “Do you like me?”
MEMO to pastors: You aren’t denying hell. You are avoiding it. And, inadvertently, leading others to it.
You know dang skippy no one changed the scriptures while you slept through seminary. Heaven is still coming with Jesus, and hell is still a place to get the worst sunburn in history.
This isn’t fashion that is “in” one day and “out” the next. It’s never Labor Day with Jesus and you can wear your whites all year long, brother. So, why?
A-ha! G’head. Admit it, you Caspar Milquetoast clock-punchers. It’s the economy, right?
The more you preach folk at the crossroads of heaven or hell, you are at another crux in the road of getting their tithe or watching that check walk out the door.
From Sheol to Hades, Gehenna to Tartarus. Even “the pit” if that knocks your socks off and gives you reprieve from your pastoral obligations.
Whatever you call it, just beware:
But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away (Isaiah 64:6 NKJV).
I hope that sticks because no matter how good you look on TV, you are only as pretty as the last sinner you yanked out of the muck and the mire.
That’s the evidence of your global ministry - the people.
Maybe that’s why your righteousness should be like “filthy rags.” If you are doing God’s work, you are busy polishing off all the dirt on folks’ lives. Just a thought.
Oh, and if you don’t know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, call on him.
He loves you. He died for you. He lives for you now. Forget what you don’t hear in church. Just hear the knock on your heart… and let him in. Peace.