My friend, Bill Hybels, was once studying the Bible for a sermon in a restaurant.
A young woman looked over and asked, “Why are you reading that?”
Bill looked back and said (this is an exact quote): “Because I don’t feel like going to hell when I die.” (Bill seems to struggle at times saying what he’s thinking.)
She retorted, “There is no such thing as heaven or hell.”
Bill thought, this is going to be interesting.
He turned. “Why do you say that?”
She said, “Everybody knows that when you die, your candle goes out . . . poof!”
“You mean to tell me there’s no afterlife?”
“So that means you must be able to just live as you please?”
“Like there’s no judgment day or anything?”
Bill continued, “Well, that’s fascinating to me. Where did you hear that?”
She said, “I read it somewhere.”
“Can you give me the name of the book?”
“I don’t recall.”
“Can you give me the name of the author of the book?”
“I forgot his name.”
“Did that author write any other books?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is it possible that your author changed his mind two years after he wrote this particular book, and then wrote another one that said there is a heaven and a hell? Is that possible?”
“It’s possible, but not likely.”
Bill: “All right, let me get this straight. You are rolling the dice on your eternity predicated on what someone you don’t even know wrote in a book you can’t even recall the title of. Have I got that straight?”
She looked back. “That’s right.”
Bill summarized, “You know what I think, my friend? I think you have merely created a belief that guarantees the continuation of your unencumbered lifestyle. I think you made it up, because it is very discomforting to think of a heaven. It is a very discomforting thought to think of a hell. It is very unnerving to face a holy God in the day of reckoning. I think you made it all up.”
The conversation apparently got a little edgy after that.*
What have you come to personally believe regarding God? How have you come to believe it? Where did you get your information? These are appropriate questions, wouldn’t you agree?
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*The essence of this conversation was recounted by John Ortberg in his book Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You (pp. 110-111) and adapted for this post.