If there is one singular thing that is going to send more people to hell than ‘goodness,’ I don’t know what it is. I realize that sin is the ultimate reason for the punishment of the wrath of God, but what I am talking about here is the total misunderstanding of God, who He is and what He requires that so pervades the church and most of our culture.
Here is the problem. People assume that God works on a continuum. What do I mean by that? A continuum, in this sense, is a set of opposite ideas and the range of possibilities that exist in between them. How do you feel today? 1 being ‘I would rather be dead,’ 10 being ‘there needs to be more people to share in my happy parade.’ The choice you will make is part of a continuum (6.5 for me, btw), the range between the two.
What does this have to do with God, hell, you and me? Well, are you a good person or a bad person. 10 is good, 1 is bad. Where do you fall? I would say that I am about an 8. Here is the rub. Most people assume that if they fall on 5.1 (or maybe even in the high 4.5’s- I mean God IS merciful) then you are good to go heaven. If you are (here is my favorite line) ‘basically a good person,’ then God is going to let you into the Kingdom. Now here is where you expect me to say that there are no ‘good’ people. While that is true, that is not what I am getting at here.
The problem with this thinking is that God does not judge on a continuum, but on an ‘either/or.’ God’s standard is not ‘better than most’ or ‘good enough.’ It is ‘perfection.’ Simple, undefiled perfection. Anyone not meeting that standard need not apply. Jesus Himself, in the Sermon on the Mount, told the listeners that they had to be perfect as God was perfect (Matt 5:48).
So if perfection is the standard- where does that leave you and me?