I grew up believing in the “god” of Hell. I knew that unless I, or anyone else, spoke specific syllables in announcing Jesus as their Savior and Lord there was only one final outcome: ETERNAL CONSCIOUS TORMENT.
As a kid I didn’t realize the lens this put over my eyes and the way it affected every aspect of my life.
Everything from video games to comic books to talking with friends could potentially cause me to “lose my salvation” that had to constantly be guarded with “fear and trembling” before this angry god.
As I got older and actually began reading and studying the Bible for myself I found myself in the very dangerous (in my mind) position of questioning the Bible.
“Why does Jesus not match up to this YHWH character in the OT?”
“How come Jesus says to forgive enemies when the Guy He supposedly represents is killing pretty much anyone He wants?”
It didn’t add up.
I began bringing these questions to my Pastor as, at this time, I was a worship and youth leader for my congregation. The only answer he could give me are what I assume are the “go to” answers when these kinds of questions are asked. “Jesus came as a servant the first time and will return as the wrathful warlord king of the world the next time” and “His ways are not our ways, we simply can’t comprehend.”
This did NOT suffice for me.
Why would Jesus ADD to an OT passage, something that should have afforded Him all the curses of the last portion of Deut, and say “love the Lord with all your…MIND… (Mind being the added portion)” if we aren’t supposed to think and question?
That’s when I first realized that perhaps Jesus represented something totally different than the evil caricature of “god” I grew up believing in.
This turned me on to preachers and teachers such as Jeff Turner and Michael Hardin who taught that God is truly love and not EVERYONE in the Bible had or recorded the correct revelation.
I, of course, saw this as blasphemous at first, but as I listened I realized it made a whoooole lot more sense than the world-view I was struggling with.
It was a huge paradigm shift for me but I began to simply love people the way Jesus did and see everyone as God’s kids and everything as “full of His glory.”
It was like suddenly the veil was lifted and Moses was exposed for the false representation he was and Jesus stood above all with the ONLY true revelation of God.
Now I feel liberated to live and love life, to explore new ideas and world-views with no fear of judgement from a god who is too weak to be questioned.
If God would create a place of endless torture for those who simply never prayed a prayer then that god is no better, nay, WORSE than men we today would consider evil and malicious, men like Hitler and Stalin whom we hunt down and try to stop from perpetuating their evil schemes.
I now see God as my friend, in and through me, my life and vibrance just begging to be shared with a world, especially the religious, who are in such desperate need of freedom from the god of Hell.
Rhett Hale is in a journey of discovery into the heart of God and what it really means to be a Christian. You can know him more through his blog The Common Sense Christian.
Thanks, Rhett, for sharing your testimony with us.
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