Coming to Terms
Updated: Jun 9, 2020
Patience is a quality you need in Christianity. Patience with yourself, patience with God, patience with life, and patience with other people are very necessary to walk in these relationships. Otherwise, you will be swallowed up by sorrow and consumed by depression. Added wisdom truly is added sorrow (Ecclesiastes 1:18).
If you are not in a good mood, I would suggest you not read any further than this line. The following brainstorm came from a dark place. I am sharing this brainstorm to see other viewpoints on the matter. Feel free to reach out and provide feedback (as with all of my work). The viewpoint is essentially the following: as a Christian, whether new or endured, you need to realize that daily, you will watch nonbelievers, and former believers, die with their sin into damnation, and there will be nothing you can do about it.
Certain personal events in my life have made me come to the realization that I will have to watch certain loved ones in my life give in to depravity, and into the spirit of the anti-Christ (carnality), in favor of their own understandings (which are biased and incomplete). This will not be an experience reserved for people I do not truly know. It is not an experience that will only be felt at their funeral or upon sudden deaths. It will happen each and every second with people that I know and love, until the day they die, barring the power of prayer and redemption in Christ.
I am by no way exempt from being at fault for relying on my own understanding. There are plenty of sins I still carry with me. Yet, I am covered by the grace of God, as I have accepted Him and believe in what He has done for my existence (John 3:16-18). There will be old sins, new sins, and refurbished sins that I will still need forgiveness for even as I pass away. Though I will be a better man than I am today (Lord willing), it will not likely result in a sinless end (if it does, glory to God). However, grace abounds over my life because I have faith in Jesus Christ.
For some of my loved ones, they have rejected the salvation, grace, mercy, and forgiveness through Christ Jesus. They have rejected Jesus Christ altogether, though some were born to parents, grandparents, and guardians who preached the Gospel to them. They are living by their own understanding, or some other god’s (like zodiac signs), and a reality I have witnessed is that some will continue in this way unto death.
I experienced this reality when a former coworker (strip club promoter) passed away. He would come by the hotel I valeted for to pass out promotions and try to get us to convince guests to visit his club. We had become accustomed to his antics and would joke around with him whenever he’d come by. He was generous and full of witty conversation. I enjoyed his company often, especially on slow days with coworkers I didn’t like or converse with.
He knew I was Christian. He would even call me “Father Rio”, hinting at some knowledge about Catholicism. I knew he wasn’t a religious man. I make it a point to get on the subject of faith in most, if not all, of my relationships. He brushed me off whenever I tried to press the issue. I kept praying for him, but even through the sickness, recovery, and death, I never knew if he accepted Christ into his life.
My perception of his life is partial, and I hope he did accept Christ over his life before the end. However, up to that point, I just had to watch. I came to love a person, spoke the Gospel to him, and watched him carry on in his sinful ways without knowing whether or not his eternity was decided in his mind and heart. I’ve had to do this with so many people, it has begun to weigh heavy on my heart.
Even now, there are plenty of nonreligious, antireligious, wayward religious, or just partially religious people in my life whose eternities are at stake. I can see it, they can feel it, but we continue on as if death won’t come in an instant. You can’t force people to choose Christ. Not even God forces his creations to choose Him. You can only choose how you operate within the time you are given.
I could spend the rest of my days preaching, evangelizing, teaching, and growing with them, and they can still choose hell over heaven, damnation over paradise, and consequence over salvation. There is nothing I can do about the state of a person’s mind and heart. That is a task solely in the hands of God. Any progress made towards restoration is dependent on the individual and God. I can’t make them confess faith in their heart.
The whole experience reminds me of Luke 16:19-31. We spend our lives crossing paths with rich and unfortunate people. How we treat them determines whether we are comforted in heaven or tormented in hell. God sends us His saints, prophets, apostles, disciples, pastors, bishops, ministers, evangelists, and preachers. Yet, they go ignored because people refuse to believe that there is a God and only one God who will decide the fate of each and every human being without bias. His judgments will be perfect and we will not be able to excuse or justify our way out of His verdict. Your life’s choices will either result in heaven or hell, the main choice being to accept Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for your sins.
Can you imagine sitting in the hosts of heaven with a clear view of the torment in hell? Can you imagine your brother or sister down there? Can you imagine looking down and seeing your pastor? Do you think you’ll see your mother or father, cousin or friend, spouse or enemy? Some people may have watched their enemies enter the gates of heaven while they are casted into the fires of hell. None of the placements will be incorrect or mistakes. You will earn heaven or hell by your faith. God knows your heart and you cannot trick Him into sending you where you don’t belong.
In Luke 16, the fires were so hot, the rich man asked for the beggar to dip his finger in water and put it in his mouth. Just the taste of water would’ve caused immense relief. That is the place many of my loved ones are headed if they do not accept that God sent His Son and had Him sacrificed for our sins. A simple act of faith, of seeing whether or not the story is true, is too much for them. And so, heaven will be too much a reward for their faithlessness. They will go to hades, the lake of fire, the pit, hell, or whichever place of torment mentioned in the Bible. They will be the enemies God licks up with fire after they try to take His kingdom by force.
I have prayed for family members, coworkers, crushes, friends, acquaintances, fellow church goers, strangers, and people I’ve simply taken interest in. There are plenty of people who are proudly walking through life towards hell, and some of them even know it, but have given up. They’d rather continue in their depravity than make a true change and seek the wisdom of God. They are the cause of their own destruction and they don’t even understand it as such.
This is what it’s like to watch people cast God aside for pleasure. It is like watching them walk into the flames and darkness. It is like watching their skin shrivel up and dry, and then begin to bubble. I see them winded and choking on vapors. Yet, they say, “God knows my heart…”
How strong is sin? How strong is forgiveness? Which one would you rather have? I do not wish this end for my loved ones, but I cannot force them to choose God. They will have their disagreements with scripture, lack faith, live in rebellion, and utterly refuse Jesus’ salvation. Their end will be justified. I’m just wondering how will I look upon them in eternal suffering and not cry? How will I feel when I remember a long, lost friend, search for them in heaven, and find out that they instead were cast into hell?
I pray I don’t have to experience this. I pray all the people in my life come to the realization that they need to know who Christ is, and not just for “fire insurance” as some say, but to discover the greatest relationship mankind and womankind will ever know. I pray we all get a taste of Jesus that is so sweet, we’ll never want anything else, even the very things we claim we were born with. I pray we learn the truths of our existence and willfully side with truth rather than lie. I pray God’s mercy far outweighs His wrath. I pray we wake up from ourselves and step out of what we think we know. I pray faith be a thing all of my people give a chance. I pray for our souls. May they be found resting in the end, rather than tormented.
Thanks for reading,