I’ve come to love and hate Twitter. I love it for the portal it provides me to constant streams of information, albeit sometimes less than credible. I hate it because Twitter allows people to speak whatever trivial, stupidity that comes to mind. It seems like if they can say it in less than 140 characters, it absolutely must be said in all it’s unfiltered glory. Take Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, who this week tweeted the following:
If you are not Christian you are going to hell. It’s not unloving to say that. It’s unloving not to say that.
At first glance you have one of two reactions; abject horror that someone would be so calloused, or enthusiastic support for someone being brave enough to say it. Okay, maybe there’s a third reaction. The reaction of “you’re right but couldn’t you have said it nicer?”
I don’t know what he intended other than possibly getting more publicity, but I didn’t take Mark Driscoll’s statement as a call to start judging people or preaching fire and brimstone. Where many picture him piously judging people with his statement, I see it as a pastor coming to grips with the enormity of his calling. The statement isn’t so much about the lost as it is about the saved. It’s not a scare tactic for those who are outside the church to repent and be saved. For me it’s a wake up call to see the world around me differently. To see the hurt and lost. To no longer ignore the plight of those around me. To reach out to them with the loving hand of Christ who is my hope and redeemer.
For all the love and grace that Jesus exuded throughout his ministry, he still told stories of people cast out into hell’s fire with weeping and gnashing of teeth. And I imagine him each time saying that with fear in his eyes and a broken heart. It was a reminder that he must continue to share his Good News. It moved him to touch lepers, heal the blind, and call little children to him. St. Francis of Assisi got it right when he said “preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words”.
Think about it for a minute. If you knew the person next to you, a complete stranger, were going to die in the next ten minutes, would you treat them differently? Would you maybe take notice of them, smile at them, or compliment them? Would you let them cut in front of you? If you knew the last words they would ever hear in life were from you, what would you say?
What if Christians actually acted like every non-Christian was going to hell. We are Christ’s hands and feet on this earth. Jesus commissioned his disciples to go into all the earth and share his good news of salvation. He didn’t say “take it easy now that you know you’re saved.” We shouldn’t sit back and breath a sigh of relief at our own salvation. Rather we should be wholly bothered by the empty pew next to us. We should be broken by the thought that one lamb is not with the 99 and we should go looking for it.
How sobering will it be for us to get to heaven and have to answer for all the people we could have brought with us and didn’t?