Aug 20, 2010  •  In Christianity, Personal

I Am Not a Christian Because I’m Scared of Hell

One of the many misconceptions that non-believers have about Christianity is that Christians only attend church, follow the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus, and claim to believe in God because they are scared to spend eternity in hell. They say that the Church uses hell as a scare tactic to gain more followers, that this method is not only unhealthy but also unfair.

While I am sure that there are some churches and individuals who use hell as a scare tactic, (and sadly, only follow Christ because they are scared of hell), I strongly disagree with this way of thinking. Because as stated in the title of this post, I am not a Christian because I’m scared of hell.

Do I believe in hell? Sure. But I have no idea what it’ll be like aside from the fact that it is a place void of God. And that is the #1 reason I do not want to be in hell.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Miriam wrote about some of her thoughts on God and recounted a question asked of her: why do you want to go to heaven?

I want to go to heaven because I love God and want to be close to Him. Sure, that is not the only reason — there are many others, such as being able to meet and walk among all Christians throughout history, including Biblical characters whom I am sure will make me squeal like a little girl face to face with Justin Bieber when I meet them — but this reason is my first and foremost.

There have been a few instances in my life where I have been in the presence of God, and there is nothing like it. Never have I felt so humbled, so inadequate, yet so LOVED. Never have I been so overcome with a barrage of emotions that my body automatically gives out from under me; I stumble, kneel, and bow. Never have I felt more at HOME, more safe or comforted.

And I know that this is just a fraction of what I will experience in heaven.

Do I know that I will go to heaven? Yes. I am confident that I will go to heaven. And I am not being arrogant or presumptuous here — I know that God loves me, sent His only Son to die on the cross for me, that by His grace I am saved, and that I will enter heaven when my life on earth is over.

I am not afraid to die.

I often think back to the haunting dream I had late last year. How, at the moment when I knew I was about to die…

…my life does not flash before my eyes. I am afraid for a split second before a sense of calm and acceptance overwhelms my being. I know I have lived an imperfect life, but I also am certain that I will soon be with God.

The only fear I have about the afterlife is that my loved ones will not be in heaven with me. And this is the reason I evangelize, especially to those who are important in my life. Because I cannot imagine spending the next life without — not experiencing the glory of God without — J, our children, the rest of my family, or my beloved friends.

I also know that I will meet the child we had lost last year in heaven.

I know that many will read this and think that I am delusional. That is fine. All I know is that I am confident in my faith, and that I want to share my faith with others because I want them to experience this same joy. Not because I want them to be scared of hell.

So, to reiterate, I am not a Christian because I am scared. I am a Christian because I am loved.

12 Responses to “I Am Not a Christian Because I’m Scared of Hell”

  1. Eek565:

    Wow. I am really enjoying these posts. I started following your blog because I like the funny nerdy stuff. But the theological discussions are a total bonus. I consider myself a Christian (PCA, yeah sister). But what I'm learning on my journey is that it's more about relationships versus as someone put it, "Just something you do on Sundays."

    I've observed that hellfire and brimstone tactics appeal to certain people, because without that legalism to make things black and white they are lost. It is way more complicated than that, because God wants to know what is going on in your heart. Is your heart turned towards God or something else? That is a moment by moment question for me.

  2. Geek in Heels:

    @Eek565 — Exactly. What good is being a Christian if you do not have a personal relationship with God?

    @Austyn — Your short but succinct comment put a huge smile on my face. So thank you.

  3. EM:

    Interesting. I would never claim to "know" what will happen when I die. I may believe _______ will happen (or won't happen), I may have faith it will but know it? No, I don't see how that's possible.

  4. seriously jenny…. can you be my mentor or something?! lol… but interesting what you write. actually, a huge problem I've had in my life is being scared. I'm scared of EVERYTHING. I'm scared of God, I'm scared of his power, what he's capable of, of seeing scary things… for a looong time growing up, I was really scared of satanic and demonic things to a point where I could never sleep alone. (so yeah, watching Exorcist was never going to happen!) I somehow got over that, but now I'm scared of physical pain/death. I know we are supposed to fear God, but I think mine is to the point where it limits my faith and trust. (And just to be clear, I'm not scared of what happens after death… just actual death itself because it will be painful or horrific??)

  5. Jimmer:

    Two books I think you'll enjoy, both by C.S. Lewis: Mere Christianity, and The Great Divorce. The Great Divorce really spoke to me because it portrays how I've always felt about the immediate afterlife; maybe not the actual physical details, but our relationships more-so.

  6. Geek in Heels:

    @Carol — I completely understand what you're talking about. Fear definitely plays a big factor when it comes to our faith, but like you said it is a good thing to fear God but not to a point where it hinders our faith. And I think that in instances dealing with physical pain, people like me — who have a huge tolerance for physical pain and isn't that afraid of it — have a BIG advantage when it comes to this topic.

    @Jimmer — I've read both those books (I'm a big C.S. Lewis fan, btw. Not so much for his Narnia books but for his theological ones.) but it's been a while so my memory on them is a bit fuzzy. I think I'll pick them up again soon…thanks for the suggestion!

  7. Stephen Hebert:

    GIH,

    I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church. I heard claims about God and very little else at home. I was baptized several times before puberty (to compensate for having backslidden), and I’ve searched and prayed obsessively for the 15 years since leaving the church with no lesser fear of eternal condemnation. As far as I know, I have never experienced anything like being in the presence of God as you describe it. I have experienced moments of profound humility and compassion for others, but never in circumstances remotely Christian. When I feel loved, it’s generally a result of an undeserved kindness or mercy from another person.

    Are you willing to share any details about the circumstances of the few times you have felt God’s presence?

    Thank you.

    • Hi Stephen,

      The one thing that all these moments had in common is that I was in fervent prayer at the time. Whether it was during prayer time at a church retreat, during a multi-church revival, or just praying in the privacy in my home, I was in intense prayer.

      I can tell you that it certainly does not come often or easily to all. Even for someone like me, who has been a Christian for all my life, I have only experienced these moments a handful of times. (Meanwhile I know that some people often feel God’s presence, in levels more intense than mine.) I can also tell you that it cannot be forced, and that it can only come from a personal relationship with God.

      I will keep you in my prayers, and I hope that you will find a good church in the near future in addition to supportive Christian friends who will help you along the way. Good luck, and thanks for reaching out!

  8. Jackson:

    It has become popular to describe hell as “separation from God” but that is not what the Bible teaches. See Revelation 14:10 where it is stated that “he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.” If hell was void of God, that would be make it have an appeal to a lost person (and hell will have not one shred of any hope or any good thing, see Revelation 14:11).

    So many Christians like to get on a high horse and brag about how they aren’t believers out of fear. I for one, AM a Christian purely out of fear and I don’t see what it is so sad about it. Now fortunately, it is PAST fear and not a present fear, because I know that I am saved and eternally secure for simply believing on the Lord Jesus Christ (John 6:47, Acts 16:31). All Christians are called to follow Christ, but this is not how we are saved, this is discipleship (Mark 8:34).

    I don’t understand the attitude that many Christians seem to have toward me because I believe out of fear. Also, I must be honest that I find your comment that those with a “huge tolerance for physical pain” have a “BIG advantage” to be the height of absurdity for two reasons. Firstly, this is not even remotely realizing the torment of being on fire forever and for all time (you realize that even if you could stand it for 1000 years that you would smaller than the smallest speck on the globe of the earth compared to the length of all eternity!) and secondly, even if someone could tolerate (which no one can), even by your standards this is not a good thing because this could easily keep them from becoming saved because they can supposedly “tolerate it.”

    -Jackson

  9. Jill:

    I shed a joyous tear reading this. Love it.

  10. Wyatt Richards:

    If you read the bible, the only unforgivable sin is not believing in god. So if you don’t want to go to hell, I would say to love god with all of your heart, and live life being nice and doing the work of god.

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