“I hope I won’t go to hell for that,” said the teenager.
It broke my heart to hear this young woman who has grown up in the church, who is a leader and who, in all she says and does seems to “get it” still wonders in her heart if she will end up in hell.
Jesus was and is about grace. Grace, I remember learning during my own high school years, is unmerited favor. By grace we are saved, not by works, right?
Why doesn’t this young woman know this in the depth of heart? Believe me, when I heard her say what she said, I instantly and gently reminded her of the gospel and grace and she remembered “all that stuff” yet in her soul she is still worried.
It breaks my heart, but she isn’t alone. I don’t think she is even in the minority. Over and over again it seems I come across people whose first question for me “Can I still go to heaven if…?” or “Do I have to go to hell if…?”
Perhaps the saddest thing is that if I told you what this young woman was referring to, some of you might actually think that, yes, she is going to hell for that.
No, really: stop it.
IF we say we believe that God is about grace (which is unmerited favor, and you get the whole meaning of “unmerited,” right?); if we say we believe that Jesus came not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him, then we have to stop. We have to stop making people, or even letting people, live with this constant dread that they are going to suddenly make God hate them. We have to help people stop wondering if they’ve been good enough, because the very meaning of grace is that
IT ISN’T ABOUT BEING GOOD ENOUGH
It also isn’t about earning it or deserving it. It isn’t about getting what we deserve.
It is about a God who loves us and wants us.
It is about God.