Hell in a handbasket

January 30th, 2019

Hell is a hot mess. Preaching about the topic of hell has led to pastors being fired, churches splitting, relationships ending and people turning away from God altogether. In the NBC show The Good Place, writers use comedy as a way to lightheartedly portray what happens to people after death. The four main characters in the show spend all their time and energy trying to stay out of the “Bad Place” (hell) and getting into the “The Good Place” (heaven).

The Bad Place is depicted in a comical way and is full of annoying people, people wearing Crocs and fountains of clam chowder. While the show is witty and funny, it also leads us to wonder about the reality of the afterlife.

The Bad Place: According to the Bible

Our Christian doctrine of hell is often difficult to understand. In Scripture there are four words that can be translated into the English word hell. The first is the Old Testament word Sheol, known as Hades in the New Testament. Both words refer to the abode of the dead.

The other word for hell in the New Testament is Gehenna, which was used by Jesus. Gehenna, also known as the Valley of Hinnom, was in Jerusalem and associated with human sacrifice. Some scholars also believe Gehenna referenced a burning garbage dump located just outside of Jerusalem. The fourth word is Tartarus, which was used in Greek mythology to describe the underworld lower than Hades and is referenced in 2 Peter 2:4 as a place for “angels when they sin.” When you read the English word hell in Scripture, keep in mind it has several different meanings.

Jesus didn’t shy away from the topic of hell, so lead your youth by example and approach the subject with an open heart and open mind, encouraging them to do the same. We will not have all the answers to all the questions, but that’s OK. When we put our trust in God’s sovereignty, we can find peace even in the midst of messy theology.

Question of the day: How have you seen hell portrayed in TV shows or movies? 
Focal scriptures: Matthew 10:26-32; Mark 9:45-50; Luke 16:14-30

For a complete lesson on this topic visit LinC.

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