But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. Revelation 21:8
“Have a little hell fire and brimstone to start your day off with?”
“No thanks, don't mind if I pass.”
Messages of this sort don't rank high on my fav's list to listen to, let alone write about. I'm more comfortable looking into God's grace and mercy. Still it's important to heed all of God's Word, even those parts that make us squirm and feel uncomfortable.
Revelation 21:8 lists the Who's Who of Hell. Just in case you haven't heard, there aren't any parties there. A good time won't be had by anyone.
Ask many people, Christians included, who will go to hell and they'll probably get most of those on the list except the first two. Those leading the charge to make hell “Home Sweet Home” aren't the usual suspects. It isn't the mass murderers, the Robber Barons and the child molesters who are first in the pool. It's the scaredy cats that lead the way. Christians fall into the trap of accepting cowardice and unbelief as part of life. Let's not call them sins shall we? They are however, the top two on the list. Ouch! I've walked in those shoes and they can feel quite comfy.
God's got a problem with cowardice – He doesn't like it at all. Unbelief, the kissin' cousin of cowardice, is fear based and opposed to faith. Faith is what pleases God, Hebrews 11:6.
I've heard reference to the 365 instances of “fear not” in the bible; one for every day of the year. It is a nice thought but inaccurate. Fear and its derivatives appear 314 times. Jesus used the word fear about ten times. There may not be a “fear not” for everyday of the year but if Jesus only said it once, that’s sufficient.
Maybe cowards go first because cowardice is the root of all the rest. Fear puts us in a self-preservation mindset. Unchecked, it drives individuals to extremes in order to protect themselves, their lifestyles, their stuff and so forth. Fear is the main reason we accomplish so much less than we were designed for. Ouch again!
Cowardice isn't ok with God. Speaking for myself, it will not hold up as an excuse. Fear is not an acceptable response – faith is. When we walk by faith we please God. He likes it when we imitate our Father. When we act just like Him it's a sign that we really get it.
Ok, now I need to get rid of the mental image of the cowardly lion from the Wizard of Oz at the head of the Going to Hell line. I also need to ruthlessly admit to and confront the fears in my own life. They're not ok. Hanging onto them hasn't done me any good in the past and that's not going to change in the future. Lord, help us all to face what frightens, even terrifies us and break it's stronghold off of our lives, in Jesus' name. Amen.
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