Over the past few days I’ve had a stomach virus. This wasn’t just your average puke once or twice then you’re done stomach virus. This was a multiple day, no relief, please make it stop stomach virus. I want to spare you the gory details and trust me, you’d thank me, but I will say that in the middle of this unrelenting pain that often wouldn’t even allow me to sleep, I began to just beg for some sort of break or semblance of relief. It was terrible.
When I think of begging for relief from unrelenting pain I can’t help think about hell. Hell is described in horrific terms in the Bible and rightly so. It is eternal separation from God. It is eternal punishment for sin against a holy, eternal God. Hell is terrifying and the only way to escape is to trust in Christ’s finished work on the cross. Yet, I often feel we don’t take hell seriously enough.
If we really believe hell is what we say it is then shouldn’t we be telling everyone about Jesus? Shouldn’t we be pleading with them and telling them of the only way of escape? People will desire relief, but find none. Even worse, it is eternal so there will never ever ever be relief if we can even come close to comprehending such a thing.
Jesus tells a story in Luke about a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus. The poor man laid at the rich man’s gate begging while the rich man feasted every day. Luke 16:23-24 says, “and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’” Abraham goes on to say that this is impossible and there’s a great chasm fixed between them.
What is the rich man’s next request? “Warn my family. Please don’t let them come here and experience this.” Abraham says that they’ve got the Scriptures and if they don’t believe those then they won’t believe anything, not even someone returning from the dead to warn them. The rich man’s fate was sealed, but he desired to warn others and spare them.
We are too complacent. As Christians, we know what we’ve escaped and Whom we’ve found. Sadly, we can often get comfortable. We can live like we’re already experiencing eternity and that our time isn’t urgent. We can live like there is no real hell people will face one day. The rich man realized it when it was too late. Yes, people have the testimony of the Bible, but they also have us. They need us to not be silent. They need us to leave our comfort and live like something’s at stake.
Paul says in Romans 10:14, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” We must preach. We must share. We cannot be silent.
A stomach virus is temporary. I knew the pain I felt—which at times felt like forever—would eventually subside. The eternal torment that is hell will never have an end. There will be no escape and no second chances. Let’s live like we believe this. Let’s talk like Jesus is the best and most important thing in our lives. Let’s love people enough to be uncomfortable.