The concept of life after death is not new. Most people believe in the continuation of the soul after we die. If this is true, what happens to us? Where do we go?
Many cultures and religions teach that after this life we go to one of two places. If you were a good person in life, you go to eternal paradise. If you weren’t good enough, you would spend eternity in suffering, being punished. While there are many cultural variations on this theme, in our culture we think of heaven and hell.
Are Heaven and Hell Real?
As children we see silly images heaven and hell in cartoons. These cartoonish understandings may be why people discount the idea of heaven and hell. Of course, many want to believe that heaven is real. It gives hope in the face of death. But many people also want to question the idea of hell. For example, why would a God who loves all of us ever think to send anyone to a place like hell – a place of such grief and despair?
Hell is the Absence of God
God doesn’t want to send people to hell. Think of it like this. By definition, darkness is not a thing. It is simple the absence of light. Cold is the absence of heat. Likewise, hell isn’t a place people are being sent. It is simply what is left in the absence of God. If God is love, joy, peace, and hope, then what is left when God is absent? That would be hell.
God isn’t vindictive. He didn’t create hell to punish those who don’t love him. It is simply a place where God is not. When people decide they don’t want anything to do with God, they choose his absence. They choose hell.
No One Has to Go to Hell
The only way to get into heaven is to be perfect. Yet no one is perfect. We have all lied, stolen, hurt people, or sinned in other ways. None of us are worthy of heaven. But God loves us like a father loves his children. He knew the only way to save us from an eternity without him was to send his son Jesus to rescue us. Jesus gives us a choice. We can choose heaven. We can choose God forever. So we don’t have to worry about that absence of God – that hell. The choice is yours.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- What ideas of heaven and hell have you seen depicted in cartoons?
- The video claims that God did not create hell to punish people who don’t love him. Do you agree or disagee, and why?
- What do you think of the idea that hell is simply the absence of God? What questions does this concept answer? What other questions does it raise?
- The video tells us that Jesus rescues people from hell, but doesn’t say how. Explain how Jesus rescues us from hell.
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.