NOTE: I started to write a disclaimer for this post, but then I erased it. Honestly. What do I have to apologize for?
My main focus in this post is on trends that I’ve noticed among certain Christians. If this post doesn’t apply to you, then trust me. I’m not talking about you.
Whether they care to admit it or not, there are Christians out there who practice a little something that I’ve come to call flat-earth faith. They believe that if their worldview is altered in any way–if they go beyond the boundaries of a) what mainstream Christian teachers have taught them, and b) what they’ve chosen to believe about humanity–then they will be damned. Literally. Hence, a lot of people are content to adhere to what they think they know regarding the state of the world and humanity.
For example, concerning man’s purpose: Many Christians take the command that we are not our own to a very serious extreme. They reject any line of thought that focuses on the “self” as evil. (I wish I had a dollar for every time a Christian dismissed something perfectly normal but related to self-care or self-help as a supposed example of how selfish and depraved human beings are. I swear–I’d be a millionaire.) They also aim to lead a righteous life, aka a life spent doing good and being kind to others. But this isn’t necessarily done for the sake of it. Rather, a number of Christians adhere to their code of conduct so that in the afterlife they can spend their time safely with God in Heaven, instead of Hell.
But there’s also something else that drives believers.
Remember the controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins? For those of you who don’t, here are the Cliff Notes: A few years ago, Rob Bell dared to suggest that Hell isn’t as hot as everyone says. In other words, he doesn’t view it as a literal realm of fire and brimstone. Mr. Bell also theorized that in the afterlife, heaven isn’t a Christians-only zone.
In response to this, certain folks were furious*, denouncing and disowning Rob left and right. Some even dared to declare him UNChristian. But why?
Because the hope of hell is what their faith is built on.
Once you remove hell from the equation, the current Christian paradigm is broken. It becomes doing good for goodness’ sake–or Jesus’ sake, if you will–and where’s the fun in that?
I’m being sarcastic, but really. What I said isn’t that far off from the way some Christians actually think.
These folks are addicted to the story they’ve chosen to believe regarding humanity’s purpose and destiny. There are other lies that fuel some folks’ faith. In particular, the idea that kindness is a Christian virtue, those who aren’t Christian are “lost” or otherwise hopelessly unhappy and missing out on one of life’s greatest secrets…And the idea that God loves them more than other humans.
Deep down–and sometimes even up front–a number of Christians value their exclusive status as God’s Chosen People. They count on it to serve them–if not here, then in the afterlife. In their minds, the point of this existence is, ultimately, to be good enough to secure a spot in heaven, otherwise what is there…?
As far as I’m concerned, PLENTY.
*That TIME article mentioned some of the pushback Rob received. I didn’t link to some of the more conservative sources out there, mainly because I don’t want trolls to pay me a visit.