Friday, March 8, 2013

A Lenten Reflection for March 8, 2013

Therefore, thus says the Lord, assuredly I am going to bring disaster upon them that they cannot escape; though they cry out to me, I will not listen to them. (Jeremiah 8:11)

Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)

“You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires.” (John 8:44)

Often I find myself wanting what I want, no matter what. I know that eating a certain thing is not good for me, but I want it anyway. Get out of the way and let me eat it. It’s my body. The consequences are mine. It’s my right to want what I want.

Jeremiah spoke to a people that wanted to worship idols and play international politics by the rules of the world. Like their ancestors, they wanted what they wanted. In the end, God let them have what they wanted. They didn’t want to listen to him, so he cooperated by not listening. When they received the consequences of a life without God, the horror of it made them cry out, but God wasn’t listening. At least, not for a while. Jesus wasn’t seeing much improvement in his day.

I think that’s probably what Hell is: Eternally getting what you want. Imagine the weakest, most stumbling desire for God exploding into glorious flame when God is encountered face to face. Then imagine the most stubborn, angry desire for something other than God, and getting it. Forever.

What would it be like to live in a city where there is no goodness, where each person lives only for personal gain and pleasure, where power is the only currency? That would be Hell. That would be getting everything you demand, if what you demand is anything other than God.

I tend to lean on the words of Richard John Neuhaus: “In this life, and in the age to come, followers of Jesus can have everything they want, if everything they want is Jesus.”

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