I am ever so excited to feature my very first guest writer! I can guarantee she is a much better writer than I. Meet my little sister Whitney-
a creative soul, deeply compassionate for those who live with unjustice and an overall just a beautiful person. We can scrap it out about silly things like “borrowed” clothes but at the end of the day we are accomplices.
So after I got the highest number of hits from my lastest post “The Jesuses I Reject” and more comments and emails I knew what do do with, I knew I wanted, no, needed to follow up. Many people asked for more scriptural “proof” or backing. So, after one of the comments my sister made on a facebook status (defending me like the loyal sister) I knew that I wanted to have her voice out here for you all to enjoy! Please welcome her by joining in the conversation- leave a comment. You don’t necessarily have to agree but take my Mama’s advice: “If you don’t anything nice to say, shut it“. Opening up this dialougue is so very important so join in!
The Literal Hell by Whitney Dawbarn-Robinson
And Jesus said,
“Anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell […] It is better to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Matthew 5
“Be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10 & Luke 12
“It is better for you to enter life with one eye than have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.” Matthew 18 & Mark 9
And in Matthew 25 Jesus confront religious leaders and tells them that when they win converts they make them “twice as much a child of hell.” He then asks the leaders themselves, “How will you escape being condemned to hell?”
So Hell exists. And Jesus makes it pretty clear that its not a place of sunshine and rainbows, but rather a place that’s bit bleak really…it being a dangerous, firey pitfall that bears the power to destroy you and all.
So Hell is real. It is literal. So where is it?
Where is somewhere that we throws things away to be destroyed and burned up?
….Gehenna. A word used only once in the bible by James, and only again by Jesus in the above mentioned verses provides our answer.
Now Gehenna, or what we refer to as “Hell” was indeed a literal, actual, dot- on- the- map place. It was the city dump of Jerusalem. There was a constant fire that burned to consume the rubbish. Wild dogs would rummage and fight over scraps, hence the expression, “the gnashing of teeth.”
Gehenna was a big stinky, awful dump. Everyone would have known what Jesus was referring to when he talked about the flames and teeth. A dump is an eyesore. Its kind of hard to miss. Its not a good place… you do not want to go there. Jesus uses the epitome of least acommodable places as a metaphor for the discomfort and pain that comes from making poor life choices. You don’t want to go there!
Its like the mother who swats the child’s hand as she is about to touch the hot stove. The swat is a warning. Now the child can still choose the reach and burn herself, but her pain or “punishment” will be instant, momentary; not eternal.
Jesus in this way is warning his children, just like any parent would do. Simply, he doesn’t want to see us get burned.
Jesus or God is not the one banishing us to the licking flames to be gnawed at below the knees. Hell, real Hell is something we will all experience. Sometimes it’s not even of our own missteps or misguided choices, but it manifests from the choices from family members, friends, co workers or perhaps even strangers. Hell can be our own dumping grounds, where life’s baggage and trash can teeter only so high before it crumbles and consumes us. Sometimes Hell is being the parent watch her child reach out, even after she’s been warned, and watching the child get hurt.
Somehow we’ve taken the compassionate warning of Christ’s love and manifested a message of condemnation, an icon of misery.
I think what Rob Bell very clearly demonstrates in the mere title of his book, “Love Wins,” is that no matter what we do as children, even if our parents did tell us so, there will be healing. Would the mother look on at her child and withhold a soothing salve, a warm embrace or a hand to wipe away the tears? We will live and we will get burned and bruised and pummeled, but there will be a compassionate Christ waiting to heal. Sometimes we will have to stop fidgeting first to accept the comfort we so desperately need, but love, because it is so irrevocably intwined with God’s being, has no other option but to win.