Haunted houses, heaven and hell
Halloween festivities are in full swing. Maybe you have carved a pumpkin or scanned the paper for some coupons on bags of candy. One thing many enjoy during this season is a haunted house or haunted hayride.
Christian organizations with good intentions have promoted Halloween related events, such as a haunted house. The haunted event ends with a message about Jesus. The participants may have just seen the horrors of death and disease and even hell, and then a speaker takes them into a tent and explains, “If you don’t want to go to hell, but rather go to heaven, then you need to believe in Jesus.”
We need to be cautious about this approach to sharing the good news of Jesus. Once again, while I applaud the good intentions of those who have created such an outreach, I believe it may encourage an improper response to the good news of Jesus. I believe it may encourage one to merely be afraid of hell rather than a lover of Jesus. I believe it may encourage one to desire the amenities of heaven, not the God of heaven.
No doubt, the reality of eternal punishment motivates the soul to look for rescue. But the Gospel is not merely an antidote to our fears; it is a transformation of our affections. No doubt, the reality of heaven motivates us to come to Jesus. The Gospel is not merely about what we can get out of Jesus; it is about worshiping Jesus.
Jesus teaches in Matthew 13:44, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” We read of a soul that realizes that nothing compares to the beautiful treasure of a relationship with Jesus Christ. What motivates him to come to Jesus is Jesus. And he does it “in his joy.”
Did you come to Jesus for a “get out of hell free” card? Or did you come to Jesus because he has captured your affections? My almost 3-year-old daughter sometimes only listens to me when I threaten timeout. But in due time, I want her to not merely listen because she is afraid of timeout, I want her to listen to Daddy because she loves and trusts Daddy. How pitiful it is that there are “Christians” who participate in religious activities because they don’t want timeout, not because they have truly fallen in love with Jesus.
Did you come to Jesus just for a ticket to heaven? If you were to go to heaven and see the streets of gold, no disease, no pain, no tears, and experience eternal life, but Jesus was not there, would you be satisfied? The Christian’s answer should be a resounding “No!”
Yes, hell exists, and so does heaven. Yes, it should motivate you to think about where you will spend eternity. But, come to Jesus because you now see he’s beautiful. Paul wrote, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.” Oh, but how much more beautiful is the one who accomplished the good news on that cross.
Matthew Homan is the pastor of Eureka Baptist Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.