I’ve often heard people explain their motivation for Christian missions work as: to keep other people from going to hell. This kind of motivation has always rubbed me the wrong way, but I could never articulate why… until now.
When we are so loud about what we’re against, what we are for gets lost in the noise.
Instead of being so against abortion, perhaps we should be investing in better parenting, adoption, and foster care. Instead of being so anti-divorce, maybe it would be more effective to invest in restoring and protecting marriages. Instead of being so bent on keeping people out of hell, we should be investing in bringing people into the Kingdom of Heaven. What is more important to you: Keeping people out of hell or bringing them into the Kingdom of God?
The distinction is quite fine, but make no mistake, it’s important.
Jesus was passionate about the profound impact the Kingdom has on people’s life. He wasn’t just talking about something that was to come, someday, after death, eventually. He was talking about abundant life right now. Not necessarily abundant financially, relationally, or even spiritually. He was talking about abundance in Him, which we can’t define with our words, but with our lives and actions. When we focus on keeping people out of hell we trade the heart-level abundance Jesus was all about for a form of fire insurance.
Being in the Kingdom of God means marriages improve, kids are raised right, churches are healthy, and communities are transformed. Simply staying out of hell really doesn’t mean anything to us right now and we can’t help but notice how little guilt and fear has motivated people to live for God. When we live our lives in such a way that it shows the Kingdom of God is at hand, the earth becomes a lot more heavenly (hey that sounds familiar).
Bottom line: the purpose of being a Christian is not to keep people out of hell and it would behoove all of us Christians to stop acting/talking like it.
Are you playing to win or are you playing not to lose? So often in this life we are playing not to lose at the cost of a true relationship with God. Another way to say it: Instead of focusing on what you are not, focus on what you are. You can’t base anything lasting on what you are not or what you are against.
So, what are you for? Nothing else really matters. Leave a comment explaining what you are for. What excites you about the Kingdom? What are the most beautiful promises of God? People are missing abundant life in God because we aren’t talking about it or living it out. So let’s start now: what is the Kingdom of Heaven like to you?
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– Dustin Patrick | 1MISSION in Mexico, Nicaragua, & El Salvador