Intelligence and knowledge increases from one generation to the next. What you and I know, our parents didn’t. And what our parents knew, their parents and grandparents didn’t.
The same applies to relationships and the nature of relationships, I suppose.
Some people today have a personal relationship with God and His Son Jesus. They are not just characters in a book, or in the Bible. They are living Beings with whom we communicate and who communicate with us, help us, guide us, and protect us throughout our lives in preparation for the next.
These are no glib words; but a true reality for some people today.
Others, however, believe in God alright, but He is a little distant. Sitting somewhere up there in the clouds, on His throne, looking at us, and ready to help us when we ask Him. They go to church alright, but to them at least, their relationship with their maker is not a close one. Full of reverence, of course, and perhaps tinged with a modicum of fear.
Our grandparents' sermons were full of God’s wrath, fire and brimstone, and the dread of eternal damnation in hell.
But today, a sermon like that would not go down too well – would it? It would probably not be taken too seriously by church attendants, never mind those who don’t go to church.
So how do we communicate God, Jesus, Heaven and hell in today’s sophisticated modern world full of cynicism, bitterness and bile?
Some describe hell as being in the complete absence of God for eternity. But then, there are those in this state right now, in this very lifetime; so how can they see or understand the concept of hell, never mind fear it?
Perhaps one way is to accentuate the positive in a personal and close relationship with God. Not then … in Heaven … sometime in the future.
But here and now, today, and every day.
Through the Holy Spirit. The third person in the Holy Trinity. The gift. As described by St Hilary of Poitiers, (Bishop in the 3rd Century AD). Sent to us by Jesus after He was raised to Heaven.
Not much is said about the Holy Spirit in church these days.
Yet He is here, living, loving, and ready to guide us in this life, in preparation for an eternity with God, in the next.
If we let Him.
And these are no glib words either ... but meant quite literally.