Can man send you to hell? The first question should perhaps rather be, “Why would he want to?”
Why would a man, or a church, take pride in saying that they can send you to hell? What kind of a heart reveals it self in this manner? If in fact they have the power to send you to hell, it would seem that they would use that power very very sparingly. Maybe not at all. That is a fearsome thing, to claim to have the power to send someone to hell, and then to use it!
Does it seem natural that God would send someone to hell over a piece of clothing, farm equipment, a minor disagreement in a belief or teaching? Is this really the message Jesus came to bring? Did he ever say, wear the right clothes or you will never enter the kingdom of heaven? I thought he was more interested in our growth, how loving we are, how compassionate we are, the way we treat other people, whether we love God, and I think he warned us that we might suffer, that we might face opposition, that we might be cast out and put down.
Do you really think that you can go to hell because someone puts you out of a church? No matter what happens to us at the hands of man, it is up to us what kind of a person we become. If we allow the judgments and threats of man to separate us from God, then we have given power to those who abuse us. It is up to us to continually be more forgiving, more accepting, more loving. We only have the opportunity to do these things when we are abused and mistreated, and they are not the natural thing to do. If these things come easily, then they don’t have much worth. If our souls are forged in the furnace of suffering, rejection and abuse, then something of value has come forth.
In the post I wrote where I quoted Hilmar von Campe, he says this: “We have become so comfortable that we don’t want to lose our comfort! I like my comfort, I like it very much, but it doesn’t dominate me. It is not my priority.” Can we say the same thing? Comfort and acceptance are nice, but do they dominate me? Does what man can do to me cause me to make my choices and decisions? Do I repress or hide my true feelings, my discomfort with certain things because I fear a man who claims he can send me to hell? Is it possible that God is asking more of me than that? It is possible that he is asking me to step out into the dark, where there is nothing but his hand to guide me, the Word of God to be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path? Do I really believe that he can keep me and sustain me even when all else is taken from me?
If we as a people need the approval, the stamp of approval that is given by man then we are not pilgrims and strangers but followers. If we fear that men can send us to hell merely by saying some words and declaring us outside their fellowship, then we are indeed weak. Because the scriptures have been misused, people live in fear. God’s Word should indeed cause us to fear what God can do but never what man can do. They are not one and the same, no matter who tries to tell us that they are. The time has come to dig deeper, live more fully and fearlessly, and to try Jesus. See where he will take you and how he will keep you. Turn your back on control and power hungry leaders. Learn to walk alone. Dare to be a Daniel! Don’t just sing it, do it.