Heaven-and-Hell Christianity

John 3:16—-does this conjure up images of cardboard signs at football games? How many of you have maybe even memorized this verse? I think it was the very first verse I took to heart in the local church’s Pioneer Girls program growing up…”For God so love the world that he gave his only son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” That might even be King James version that rolls out of my head still all these years later!

This Advent season, in the few weeks before Christmas, I’d like to share with you bits of my PARABLES Sunday reflections on Compassion. This verse from the gospel of John is about God’s unconditional compassion—not a conditional, cheap imitation.

I was taught as a girl that it meant that only if I believed certain things to be TRUE about Jesus Christ would I be able to go to heaven when I died. Yikes. How is that a Love bigger than the usual quid pro quo versions of love we see everyday in regular relationships?

“If you do this for me, then I’ll do that for you.”

No, there is always more to a Bible verse if when you read it or hear it, it fills you with fear of not measuring up to God’s standards.

God wants us to sit up and pay attention so we don’t miss out on Abundant Life with Christ, but think about how many times the Bible says, “Don’t be afraid,” starting in the very first book of Genesis. God knows that fear tends to close relationships down, not open them up.

And God definitely wants a healthy relationship with you—

not one based in fear.

Fear not, dear soul. God’s presence is here for you. Here’s an invitation to look for its quickening this first week of Advent.

1 comment on “Heaven-and-Hell Christianity

  1. Pam Mansfield

    Thank you for this. I too grew up learning that you must believe certain things to be saved. So wonderful to see this verse as emphasizing God’s love, not the quid pro quo.


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