It never ceases to amaze me what I hear people say when we begin to engage about spiritual matters. But today may have taken the cake. It took dinner too I think.
I was at work doing training for a new job when I met a lady named Nancy who was a volunteer. She was a friendly woman, probably in her 60s or 70s and we began a pleasant conversation. After a while I felt it would be good to turn the conversation toward spiritual things. This is something I practice often because I believe the message of Jesus and the destination of others’ souls to be important enough for the spiritual to be brought up whenever possible.
I asked Nancy if she attended a church. She said she did not currently, but grew up Catholic and had knowledge of the faith. However, she admitted that she did not have much knowledge of the Bible. As we moved through our conversation, she made it clear that a major sticking point for her when considering Christianity is believing in a God who sends people to hell. “How could God send someone like Ghandi to hell?” Nancy asked. This question of how a loving and merciful God could send people to hell is one that I have heard often, it is a sticking point for many people, not just Nancy.
I asked Nancy if she thought everyone should go to heaven, to which she said yes. I inquired about Hitler. Surely not the man responsible for the death of 11 million innocent lives I thought to myself. But indeed, when she said everyone, she meant everyone. She said that everyone is justifying their actions and will realize their errors after death. Should God punish our sincere efforts while on earth to do what we each thinks is good?
This is really a form of relative truth which maybe people are turning to today. If it is true for you, then it is true. When I encounter this perspective I often use the “color of the chair” illustration. I look at the nearest chair. For example, if the nearest chair is blue, I will say, “If I say the chair is red and you say it is blue, are we both right?” Usually the person will concede, the chair is blue, that is absolutely true. Then, I can argue for absolute truth.
I was astounded by Nancy’s viewpoint. Even Hitler should achieve heaven, because he really did not know better! Dear Lord, I am glad she did not have a career in the judicial system!
I was not able to convince Nancy to drop everything and follow Jesus but I am hopeful that I helped her understand absolute truth and that there could be eternal consequences for our sins.