And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ ESV Mark 9:47-48
In our relationships with others, we don’t often think of hell. For that matter, we don’t often think of heaven. Most of us (and definitely most of our friends) only think of today and the visible earth. Life consists of work, family, free time (if we have any). Sometimes we mix in our hopes and dreams, but even those are generally always focused on this earth. Rarely do we pause to think about the afterlife, and when we do, we generally think of the positive aspects of heaven.
Jesus taught more about hell than anyone, perhaps because as creator, He understood more about hell than anyone. In reality, though, I suspect Jesus talked about hell so much because of His love for people and His concern that they never end up there. Jesus knew it was a place of unquenchable fire; a place designed to punish the devil and his angels. He knew that anyone there could see the joys of heaven afar off, but never participate. He knew that those there could only dream of a finger dipped in cool water and placed on their tongue as a small respite from the torment. He knew the flames burn forever, and those burning aren’t burned up. He knew that all who rejected His offer of free salvation either ignoring the call to repentance or trying to be righteous through their own religious works would end up in hell forever. As He looked into the eyes of each person to whom He ministered, He could see in some of them the prideful self-determination that would lead them to reject Him and end up in hell.
Perhaps if we spoke more of hell, we would all change. Those who have not considered eternity would weigh Jesus’ offer of salvation. Those of us who have embraced Jesus in faith would share our faith more passionately. After all, it does raise the urgency when I think of my friends and neighbors in hell rather than just thinking about “I need to share my faith.” May the reality of hell call us to passionate action.