Friday, August 9, 2013


Having had a small bowl of corn flakes for breakfast and no lunch, I was hungry on the way home one recent afternoon. The small bag of barbecue potato sticks I bought satisfied my hunger, but then I was thirsty.

My thirst brought to mind the rich man from whose table Lazarus hoped to eat the crumbs, a parable told by Jesus and recorded in Luke 16. In life, the rich man had every comfort while Lazarus was malnourished, covered in sores, and reduced to begging. Then they died.

Lazarus was content in the bosom of Abraham, otherwise known as Paradise. The rich man was in Hell, suffering greatly. Able to peer into the pleasant environment which Lazarus now called home, the rich man begged the beggar who once ate his crumbs to dip his finger in water and relieve his parched tongue. I wasn’t quite that thirsty, but I imagined what it might be like to thirst for all eternity and have no hope of ever tasting a drop of water again.

According to Dr. Charles Swindoll’s reading of Scripture, billions of people who have passed from this life to the next are experiencing such torment now and billions more will join them in the future. It’s an unbearable thought, but one that many Bible believing Christians accept, some more gleefully than others. I’m on the fence on this matter and may remain there until that moment when my time on this earth runs out.

Is this the God of love who created the sun and moon, the cool breeze on a summer’s night, and the warmth from the blanket on bone-chilling winter days, who gave us warm food to eat and cold water to drink, and who sent his only Son to die for the sins of the world?

Would this God condemn anyone because they questioned the accuracy of a thousand-year-old document that says you must believe in Jesus or spend eternity in hellfire? Our works, our good deeds, our compassion and kindness are “filthy rags,” but why should a mass-murderer who repents and calls upon Jesus’ name be saved and someone who lives a comparatively exemplary life be damned, and for all eternity at that?

Who has misread the Bible?

Those who have accepted Jesus in their hearts and threaten those who have not with eternal; damnation, or those who, whether they believe in Jesus or not, cannot fathom a creator who would deny Paradise to anyone who lives by the Golden Rule but isn’t sure whose rule it is?

I need a cool drink of water.

© 2013 Brian W. Fairbanks


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