One of the reasons many struggle with the idea of there being no eternal hell is understandable because all of us want to be paid for a job well done. After all, if we do our homework, we have to remind the teacher to collect it, even if we know others forgot to do theirs. This is where the subtle deception creeps in. Our homework, (commission) is to tell the world of Christ's love, not to earn our salvation by our good works or even by our faithfulness to a local church.
Christ gave a parable that speaks very accurately to this concern of not being rewarded fairly. The parable also speaks to our jealousy of others getting something they did not earn as we perceive we have earned it. Christ laid out the idea that a landowner went and hired people to work for a day. He hired some to work all day, some about half a day, and still others to work one hour. Yet, at day's end, the landowner paid all the workers the same amount. Here is His response when those who had worked the full day complained:
"Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?" So the last will be first, and the first will be last. (Matthew 20:11-16)
Are we envious because God is generous with His mercy? Aren't we honored to work for God? Has it not been a privilege, no matter what the pay, to co-labor with Christ? The gospels paint the picture of Jesus on the cross inviting hardened criminals to join Him in paradise. If we struggle with understanding God's mercy, it is only an evidence of the fact that we are still operating in our humanity and that we still have some inner work to do to achieve the essence of godlike agape love.
Quote of the Week
"But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father is also merciful."
- Luke 6:35-36