Michael Jackson, Babies and Muslims

Watching television reporters fall all over themselves trying to sum up Michael Jackson’s bizarre life and prolific career, I think it is a perfect example of why none of us should attempt to play God. Which of us is capable of sorting through a life’s accomplishments and failures and making a true judgment regarding its worth?

I remember the day John Kennedy Jr. died. On late night TV, Bill Maher hosted several guests with oppositional worldviews, one of whom was an evangelical Christian. Bill turned on the young woman and demanded to know if she thought John Kennedy Jr. was in hell at that very moment. The woman wisely remarked that she could not possibly know the young man’s relationship with Jesus Christ and that is what determined his eternal status not her opinion of his life.

A while back, I wrote a blog post about hell. Later that day, I ran into a gentleman who accosted me angrily about that post. “How can you believe anyone goes to hell? What about babies and Muslims? Are they in hell? Is that what you think? What about babies and Muslims?”

I have no glib answers to those questions. Like the young woman on Bill Maher’s panel, I respect the question as the most serious one we all have to face. And, I suspect, that Bill Maher and the gentleman who confronted me, are less concerned with the state of John Kennedy Jr’s, babies’ and Muslim’s souls than they are with the future of their own. I get that.

The truth is that no matter whether we live destitute on the streets of Calcutta or achieve wealth, fame and creative acclaim while sleeping on custom fitted sheets in private mansions, we will each face a singular moment – a moment when our souls part ways with their human shell and we cross from this life to the next. The future that lies beyond that moment is not something about which I can be glib or about which I can engage in casual speculation.

I cringe at the notion of hell. It’s offensive to hear that nothing we do is good enough. It’s insulting to be told we deserve eternal separation from our Creator, that our highest good could not gain us access to His kingdom.

I like to focus on heaven, on the comfort of Jesus’ presence in this life, on the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. I don’t like to make people feel uncomfortable and the idea of eternal judgment is the ultimate in discomfort. I don’t like judgment or condemnation. Who am I? My life has as many peaks and valleys as the next girl’s.

I wouldn’t send anyone to hell but then . . .

I can’t create a heaven for anyone either.

I can’t create life. I can’t form people out of dust. I can’t raise people from the dead. Eternal judgment is way above my pay grade because eternal reward is not in my grasp either. I wouldn’t send you to hell but I can’t hear your prayers and reward your faithfulness either so you’re better off dealing with the One who can.

I don’t argue when the Creator of the universe says there is an eternity beyond this life and there is only One way to spend it with Him. His heaven – His rules. That’s fair.

His wisdom informs His judgments – way better than my wisdom, way better than my judgments. I have no idea what to do with babies or Muslims or Michael Jackson or John Kennedy or Lori Roeleveld. He says, we’ve all sinned, we’ve all fallen short, we all deserve eternal separation from God and I can only say – no argument there. And then I breathe in the sweet smell of hope when He says there is a way for those deserving death to have life – Jesus Christ.

I grab hold of that cross like a drowning man clutches a rescue tube.

My gentleman friend said to me, “I don’t even understand why people want to go to heaven.”

I pointed at a nearby stranger and asked “Do you feel any drive to spend forever with that person?”

“No, why would I? I don’t even know that person!” He huffed.

“And that,” I answered, “is precisely why you have no desire to go to heaven. Knowing God is what fuels my drive to be with Him forever. You might want to get to know Him before making reservations for eternity.”

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    The Conversation

  1. Very good. Your words are touched with compassion.

  2. Thank you, Karlene. You’re thoughtful encouragement means a lot to me! Thanks for dropping by.

  3. Andrea says:

    What a powerful post. GOD bless you, girl! All I can add is AMEN! and a big AMEN!!

    Hope you have a beautiful Sunday,

  4. Thank you, Andrea. God’s blessings right back at you!

  5. joan says:

    You make your case with such eloquence and all the while reading I am knowing that you are walking in fear and trepidation knowing that we do not judge others because we judge ourselves. Hell is real and the thought of rejecting God’s justification through Crist’s atonement for sin is sobering no matter who dies without that faith. Popularity does not get you there..Christ himself was least popular when He walked this earth, actually His own earth which He and the Father created. It truly is of the mercy of God that we are not consumed. Great post and definately glorifying to the Father because of your humble yet firm truth.

  6. Thank you, Joan. I remember when friends would sometimes complain about my friend, Diane, “talking about Jesus all the time” but many of them who complained love Him today because she was not afraid of being unpopular with them. Thank you for your kind encouragement. God bless.

  7. Ms. "V" says:

    Greetings Lori,

    I gave my comment on Writers Interrupted. Have a great day and be blessed.

    Ms. “V”