It was definitely a sight to see, the smell of marijuana wafted through the air, drunks outnumbered sober people ten to one. Women walked by me with paint on their bodies instead of clothing. I got whacked in the head by a handful of beads thrown from a balcony. People pressed on me from all sides, pushing and shoving so they could see women on the balconies showing body parts of various shapes and sizes. The place was nuts!
I passed by men and women passed out in the gutter, their friends patting their cheeks trying to wake them up. It goes without saying that there were more than one or two puddles of vomit to step over.
As much as these sights disturbed me, they weren’t what upset me most. The most upsetting thing of all was the group of people with large signs and loudspeakers telling everyone, or at least anyone who was listening, that we were all going to hell. The signs said, “Turn or Burn,” or “Hell is open all night.” And my favorite, “God will judge you all.”
As I passed by the group I overheard one of their members telling a young man, “All drunkards are going to hell. You are a drunkard, you are going to hell.” The “preacher” said it like he was glad the young man was going to hell. Such Christian love on display!
As I watched in amazement, the young man fell to his knees, weeping aloud, and cried out that he was a sinner in need of God. The “preacher” immediately fell to his knees next to the poor drunk man, and prayed aloud for God’s will in the young man’s life.
Okay, that’s not what really happened. What really happened is that the young man yelled a mouthful of invective and expletives, and left laughing with his friends. The “preacher” muttered something under his breath, and continued telling us we were all damned to hell.
I pulled out my phone and consulted my electronic Bible. I looked all though the Bible and could not find one place where Jesus threatened people with hell. You would think that Jesus, of all people, would be the one to dangle people over the fires of hell like a frankfurter at a barbecue. But no, I saw lots of places where Jesus talked to sinners about heaven. He spoke to sinners about forgiveness of sin, and how their lives could be changed by His love.
The men and women who were abusing the crowd in the name of Jesus were good people, I am sure. I am sure they love God and really thought they were following the Great Commission. I just wonder if they stopped yelling and berating long enough to see if anyone was being touched by their words. They certainly weren’t touched by their compassion, because none was demonstrated.
It is amazing that with all the sin and debauchery around me, it was Christians who upset me. Now don’t get me wrong, I think talking about hell has a place. If you ever ask me about hell, I will tell you what I know about it. If you are living a life apart from Christ and ask me if I think you are going to hell, my answer may shock you. You see, if you are a person I care about, I won’t sugar coat and answer for you, or tell you something you want to hear. I will tell you the truth. Yes. Yes, you are. Hell is a real place, it exits, and it is a place of eternal torment. A place where people cry out for death, but death won’t come. They are eternally separated from Christ.
That is the bad news. The Good news is nobody has to go there. Heaven is a much better place, and it is available to you. Rather than tell you about hell, I would much rather tell you about heaven and the good things that God will do for you right now, today. You see, I serve God because I love Him, not because I am afraid of hell. He makes my life happier and more complete. I am a better husband, a better dad, and a better man because of my relationship with Christ. Hell doesn’t enter into it at all.
If you don’t know Christ, drop me a line. I won’t scare you about hell, but I will introduce you to someone very special to me.
Glad to leave New Orleans… Jerry