I’ll never forget that day at lunch. I’ve thought about it many times since. Why didn’t I have an answer? What would I say today? I was resolved to find the answer.
My co-worker sat across from me in the lunch cafeteria. She had invited me to lunch that day, which was unusual since we were not close friends and had never had lunch together in all the years we worked at the same company. She was retiring soon and asked if I would join her for lunch. I was happy to go. She was a funny person, liked to tell jokes and always had a smile on her face.
We began talking about trivial things and small-talk, when all of a sudden her demeanor changed. She looked at me with a fierceness in her face I had never seen before, and she brought up the subject of God. “I don’t believe in God,” she said, “but if he does exist when I die, I’m going to look him right in the face and point my finger at him (she starts shaking her finger at me) and I’m going to tell him I don’t want anything to do with a god that demands people worship him or else he sends them to hell. I’ll turn around and gladly go straight to hell!”
Whaat?, came my reply in a state of disbelief. I kept waiting for the joke or punch line but it never came. I was speechless and did not know where her sudden anger came from. I had never discussed religion with her and was not even sure she knew I was a Christian. I do not know her reason for choosing me that day, but her attack seemed very personal. I think it was not me she was attacking but rather the one I represented, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit that lives within me as a Christian.
Our lunch was mostly over after that rant, but the expression on her face never changed back to the happy person I knew before. I never saw her again after that, but I have often wondered about her and what was the right answer to her statement. Here is what I would say to her today.
You have the wrong idea about God. God is Sovereign and Holy, and the Creator of the universe. He created this world and you and I, with only a spoken word. He is far beyond anything we can fully imagine or contain within our limitations. God is to be revered, but He is also fair and good and loving. He does not demand anything of us, nor can we earn it. Everything on this earth requires that we work for it, including our jobs, but it is not that way with God. God asks us if we would like to receive His gift of Grace. It is freely given to anyone, but we have to want to accept it. Heaven is a place for those who want to worship the true and living God and have found their salvation in Christ. If you get to know who God is, then you will want to be with Him out of this love.
You also have the wrong idea about hell. If hell is real, as described in the Bible and warned about many times by Jesus, then it is not a place you will gladly want to go. You will want to avoid it at all costs. Just look around us at the evil we see every day on this earth and you will know that hell can be a reality, and there is no reason to think it would be limited to only what we can see.
Satan’s main goal is to keep us away from God and to keep us from knowing the truth.
It is worth everything we have to seek out and find the truth; to examine our hearts and our motives. There is no price too great for knowing the truth, and there is no substitute. Yes, God is more than we can ever imagine, but He has also given us the truth and the way for redemption and eternal fellowship with Him. The rest is up to us.