At first glance you’d probably think I’m resistant to change. I don’t drink Starbucks coffee. I’m still not used to women having tattoos. I’m not getting an earring any time soon. And my wife says I still have the same haircut I had when I was in fifth grade. I assume she thinks that’s a bad thing.
By all appearances you’d think I’m someone that wants to keep things just the way they are. But I’m not. I love change. I love the thrill of staying current, or even staying one step ahead. I love anticipating trends. I’m usually not too concerned with running with the pack.
But there is one change that troubles me: It’s the lack of talk about hell by pastors.
I’m not troubled by who is going to hell. Unfortunately for Boston Red Sox fans, this is one thing we all agree upon.
I’m troubled by the lack of talk about, writing about, preaching about and deeply held conviction regarding the reality of hell by pastors today.
Why is this happening?
We Pastors Want to Appear Compassionate and Inclusive
When my daughters were in elementary school, their school put on an annual holiday musical program. Every year I stood there with our camcorder and joked with my wife that it should be renamed “The Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Buddhist/Skeptic/Hindu/Catholic/Keep-Everyone-From-Being-Offended Holiday Special.”
As a public school, the lengths to which they are willing to include everyone’s traditions and beliefs appears comical, but should be applauded. However, when that same spirit infiltrates the church, it must be cast out. Accommodation in the Kingdom of Jesus is always the first sign of betrayal.
Too often we want to appear more moral than God. Too often in outreach-focused churches we feel the need to acquiesce to the avalanche of pluralistic pressure to back off of this key doctrine. However, I tell senior pastors that I coach that if you really love people, at some point you’ll compassionately tell them the truth, even if you risk having them walk out your church doors.
As important as being compassionate and inclusive are in the context of a growing church, the overriding virtue that should be held up is faithfulness—both to scripture and the God who breathed it.