Last night my precious friend Heather from high school commented on yesterday’s blog regarding Salvation, Heaven, and Hell. I appreciate her heart so much, and the graciousness with which she disagreed with me and shared her thoughts. This kind of comment I can fully respond to, because she is reaching out to my heart, seeing me as a person, not just preaching at me. Thank you Heather!
I love you, Noelle. I am going to be real, so please forgive me in advance as we do not agree.
In my opinion why would I follow Jesus if he wasn’t my savior? I believe when he came to earth he wanted to teach us about heaven and hell. Hell is real…. It is hard to understand in our finite minds that a Lord who created us would condemn some to Hell. Heaven is for real, but so is hell. Jesus was very clear about that.
Heather, I love you too, and you don’t need to apologize for disagreeing with me. I hope that even though we have a fundamental difference in our views on Jesus, that we can keep our hearts connected. We don’t have to agree on everything in order to love each other.
I respect your thoughts and your belief about hell being a real place. In response to your comment on Jesus being ‘very clear’ about hell as an actual physical location:
How can you know for sure that he was so clear about it? From what we see in the Bible, almost everything he said was a metaphor, a story, an analogy – and I think the reason he spoke this way was because it forces us to depend on the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment for our interpretation. He was always pointing us to search within for guidance by enclosing his messages behind stories and parables. It seems like he wanted it to be like a treasure hunt for truth! He could have easily laid down ’10 steps for righteous living’, or detailed for us exactly how to get into heaven, but instead he summed everything up with the only true law: LOVE.
More importantly, please remember that the people who actually wrote down the accounts of his life and words, didn’t do so until decades later, and they had their own deeply-entrenched cultural and religious grids that most likely influenced the words they actually recorded. I’m just challenging you to seek within your heart and open yourself to the possibility that you are depending on a book for absolute truth that may not be as rock solid as you’ve always been told it is.
Heather also commented:
I challenge you to get beyond the love of Jesus and return to the simplicity of what it means to be a Christian. Being a Christian means being “Christ-like”. Isn’t that what we are all striving for?
Wow, such a GREAT comment and question, Heather! This is what I have wrestled with, because if the only definition of Christian was ‘to be Christ-like’, then I would feel great about calling myself a Christian. I definitely seek to be Christ-like. Jesus is my greatest inspiration. And I want it to be clear that I do not judge anyone who loves Christianity. If you feel great about it, and are full of joy, confidence, and peace in your beliefs and faith – that’s wonderful!
I simply have to follow my own enthusiasm and my own path. If I’m gonna say “I AM something”, I want to feel great about it. It’s a big deal to identify and label myself, and I don’t take it lightly.
And there are people who call themselves Christians, and probably have very similar views as mine. We all have to follow our own unique paths of joy and destiny, and for ME, although I don’t want to alienate Christians because I share so much with them and was so recently one of them, I also don’t want to be deceptive by saying ‘I’m a Christian’, and then have people find out that I don’t believe in Jesus as my savior.
This is why I feel so excited about my new life, because as a Christian, I always felt like I was hiding something, and always felt conflicted in my spirit by the big doubts I had. Now I can be open and fully authentic, and while that may alienate me from some Christians who can’t handle my differing beliefs, it also connects me with so many more people of various belief systems outside Christianity. This is truly a wonderful reality! The walls are down!
At the end, Heather said:
All I know is God is real and his love is what keeps me going.
Amen, Heather! This is where we connect. We love God and love each other, and I appreciate your support of me as a person, even though you disagree with my unique view on Jesus. This, to me, is the heart of being Christ-like:
To love without condition, looking straight to the heart, and to fully and fearlessly be who we really are.
Thank you for your comments, Heather!
I love you all!