Sunday, 29 September 2019
The priests talk about a loving and forgiving God, full of kindness and mercy, and the fact that He loves us all and welcomes us to Heaven.
Of course, all this is true, and is indeed Biblical. We read that "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
Jesus did indeed come to this earth to reach out to humanity. He came so that we may see Him, hear and listen to Him, and witness His love for us. He died so that we may be redeemed once more.
It is of course right that sermons should proclaim this message. That God loves and welcomes us all into His Kingdom.
But this is only half of the reality that is God. Priests do God no favours by preaching half of the truth for fear of "frightening the horses".
There are many people who turn down God's invitation to love and to join Him in His Kingdom. People who constantly, and willingly, defy God. People who stand up against Him, daring not to believe in His existence, (which is indeed a privilege afforded them by God), and also proclaiming their defiance and belief for others to emulate and to follow.
Whilst God is ever loving, merciful and forgiving, He is also just.
Surely the time will come that these people who willingly and intentionally oppose God will be judged and found wanting.
The ever merciful God will say to them, "OK ... you've made your decision, let your will be done!"
And they will have excluded themselves from God's love and from His Kingdom.
But you don't hear this message from the pulpit on Sunday, do you? At least I don't in the churches I attend.
I can't remember when a priest last talked about hell, about Satan, about the results and effects of our disobedience and turning our backs on God.
The Church needs the people. They are the clients and customers of this big business called Religion. No successful business turns its customers away.
The Church will not talk about the devil and hell in case customers stop going to church altogether. Already regular church attendances are at an all time low. About 5% of the population in the UK according to latest statistics.
Besides, if you were to ask people if they believe in hell, or the devil, or the final judgement by God, I would guess the numbers would be just as low. Although most would also claim and believe they'll go to Heaven, whatever they perceive it to be.
Surely, the Church, and its priests, bear a responsibility for the current state of affairs. Their job, which they took on freely and willingly, is to shepherd the herds of sheep back into the arms of a loving God who welcomes all to His eternal Kingdom.
I believe when a priest gets to meet God face to face, he will be asked, "How many of the people I put in your care did you lead into Heaven?"
Meanwhile, I fear many of us are sleep-walking our way into hell. Willingly so.