The Kingdom of Hell is Like…

A 100 calorie snack… and then you realize there are 10 servings in the tiny bag… (or the entire contents of the bag fits in your hand).

Free drink!!!! … with purchase of overpriced sandwich and fries.

Going through the drive though, paying, getting your food and going home. Then when you sit down to eat the order is wrong and missing items.

Having the film real burn up at the ending of Titanic. Not during the credits, but right before the final dramatic reveal. And then, because you still got to see 3 hours of the movie, the manager deems it sufficient and provides no refund or credit. (This happened to me).

Eating healthy and exercising your entire life and still getting heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, cancer, etc.

Being kind to a friend and then getting stabbed in the back.

These all have something in common. They are lies, or at best, half truths and deceptive. The Bible is full of promises from Jesus. Every one of them that has been passed by time has proven to be true.

Before texts or phones he told a fearful parent to return home to their healed child. And the child was healed. He told his disciples of His betrayal, who would do it and how they would know… then it all happened just as He had said. He foretold His death and resurrection. Everything that has been spoken by the mouth of Jesus has come to pass.

There is one more thing we await. His return. We know He will come back, but we don’t know when. While we wait we can ponder what the kingdom of Heaven will be like. We don’t have to wonder too much, because He told us in many parables.

The kingdom of heaven will be like:

Treasure hidden in a field, a fine pearl, a mustard seed, a net full of fish. But as we wait, we do so in a fallen world. A place with evil intention, greed, and hunger for dishonesty. Promises are made daily. Have you received a phone call claiming to be the IRS? What about an email from a foreign prince that wants to share his wealth? Maybe Walt Disney really will pay everyone that participates in the chain letter?

That deception comes from greedy souls who have bought the lies of the enemy. It’s a tried and true philosophy. If I can’t win naturally, I will cheat, steal, and worm my way to the top. Another promise from God is that Satan has been defeated. With my whole heart I believe that. And I see it in his desperate attempts to trick and entrap.

Just like the man who can barely speak English but wants me to give him my credit card and social security number for back taxes that I have never owed… and he will just make it all go away over the phone. It’s so obvious. It’s laughable. Except people are buying the lies. If everyone knew enough to not fall for that crazy scam, the crooks would never have success and would not waste their time.

But it does work. It just takes a few. Just a few people to be scared enough to try and stop all the promised bad things from happening. They don’t want to go to jail. They don’t want to be drug through lengthy court proceedings, so they pay up to satisfy the lies. It does work. People do pay. And to get those few who don’t know better, our phones ring constantly with “opportunities”.

Chances for me to get rich without working or to avoid a horrible fate that makes no sense. Mankind has learned this tactic from the best. Eat this apple, it will give you knowledge. Ignore your friends, it will make you seem more independent. Change that number on your taxes, you deserve it anyway. Don’t tell your spouse, how could they ever find out what you have been doing.

Little whispers in our conscience and before you know it we live in a world where a con is the rule. It’s just expected. I don’t even answer my phone unless your name is in my caller ID. I don’t talk to anyone at my door that I’m not expecting and I don’t believe what I hear regardless of the source. We have fallen. We have bought the lies and we continue to sell them.

While Jesus told us a little bit about what to expect from Heaven, I thought we should honestly and sincerely consider the alternative.

The kingdom of Hell is like a promise made that would change your life. You believed it and went against the will of God to have it. Once you signed on the dotted line, everything you were told ended up being a lie. You lost everything and everyone for the promise of something better. Now you have nothing. It’s an eternal con for the cost of your soul.

Every word out of the mouth of Jesus has proven to be true. No other man, woman or child can make this claim. If you want to follow the truth and only the truth for your life, there is only one place to turn. There is only one word to obey. There is only one hope. Everything else, it turns out, has been compromised.

Splish Splash Peter’s Taking a Bath

In John 13: 1-17 we find the account of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples.  When He got to Peter, Peter protested.  No!  “You shall never wash my feet”.  I used to read this with an appreciation for Peter.  Good for him!  Know your place.  Of course I missed the same point Peter did.  The short conversation fascinates me.  Jesus replied, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with Me.”  To which Peter responds, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

I love that response.  Don’t we all desire this level of yearning for the Savior?  The very thought of not being with Jesus caused Peter to not only turn a 180, but to double down as well.  It’s not comfortable having someone you admire and respect serving you, but Peter would allow it if it meant more of that relationship.

I’ve always aspired to be more like Peter.  To love Jesus the way he did, to be bold like he was… and then I realized… I’m just like Peter.  If that sounds pompous, you may not know the whole story.

Consider another context.  What if your boss walked in and said, “I want you to take my office”.  Well this would just be weird.  The boss would still be there.  You would still be working for him.  As nice as it may sound you just don’t like the thought of the social structure and hierarchy breaking down that way… what would your co-workers think?  So you politely decline.  You respect this boss and want to honor him.  He deserves the nicest and biggest office.  He follows up with, “if you don’t take my office, you can’t work here anymore”.

You depend on that salary, you love your job, and you have great relationships with all of your coworkers.  Losing this job is about the last thing you could ever want.  So with great jubilation you accept the bosses office and offer to take his car and salary too if that will help smooth things over.

I used to see this as a great relenting by Peter.  He didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet, but He would offer up his whole body if that meant getting to stay near the Savior.  But I fear his response may have been more like the analogy I put above.  When threatened to lose everything, wouldn’t we back pedal?

Think about what Peter was in position to lose if he didn’t allow Jesus to wash his feet.  They were still a little confused about who Jesus was.  Jesus was still potential king and ruler to them.  Even in this passage He told Peter he didn’t understand what was going on now.  The crowds loved Jesus, to the point that those against Him were scared.  He performed miracles, he had a mission, there was great hope and promise.  It’s not exactly a sacrifice to say, well in lieu of losing all of that, I’ll take your offer… and then some more as well.

Why is this worth writing about?  Because the same Peter that said, “You shall never wash my feet” also said, “I will not deny you!”.

But he relented there as well.  I can say that I am just like Peter because my mouth often works faster than my heart does.  My words are one step ahead.  I can promise and proclaim and take stands… with my words.  But when the time comes to back them up, the rooster crows.

I’ve grown less impressed with Peter as I see the same failures in my own faith.  I promise God I will listen and obey… and then the rooster crows again.  I am certain I will never sin that way again… and the crowd starts to ask if I wasn’t with that man.

Strong words.  Strong, heart felt, inspired words mean very little no matter how amazing they may sound.  We can accept Jesus serving us, we can promise to stand with him in death, we can even offer to walk out on the water to join with Him… but if we can’t even acknowledge Him when it matters most, we are nothing but an ill-tuned instrument blowing noise in the wind.

I’m embarrassingly like Peter.  I love Jesus.  I speak boldly.  But when it’s time to pick up my cross and follow in his footsteps, my actions can’t seem to match my words.  My faith is not sustained.

It’s important to remember that Peter was never intended to be our role model.  If we try to be like Peter, we may well be exactly that… and I wouldn’t recommend it.  It’s a hard and fruitless life.  Peter’s failures are meant to inspire, not his empty promises.  Where he fell short is meant to be our spring board into faith.  It was intended for us to follow Jesus.  Our example is much higher than where we often set our sights.

Maybe Peter wasn’t being selfish when he asked Jesus to wash his head and hands too.  But that doesn’t change that only seconds after proclaiming that Jesus would never wash him, water was splashing around his ankles.  The enemy loves it when we make promises because they are so easy to wreck.  God loves it when we act from the heart because that is where He tends to operate.

 


Photo by Lubomirkin on Unsplash