|Escape from Hell - by Peter van Laeys|
Well-meaning Christians have tried to scare me into accepting their exclusive brand of faith by assuring me that an eternity in hell awaits me if I don’t agree with their theology. There is one part of their doctrine I agree with: that Jesus is my savior. Jesus taught that the truth sets us free. The Truth that he taught includes the admonishment to love and forgive others, as God loves and forgives us.
When the Pharisees asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment, Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22)
These are the commandments that tell me I am safe in Divine Love: Jesus has saved me because he is the one from whom I learned this. Some people learn the law from other messengers of Love. It is the same message no matter who it comes from. Jesus also told the Pharisees to obey the spirit of the law; not the letter. The spirit of the law is Love and Love does not damn souls. However, if one believes that God is a vengeful being who punishes his wayward children; she or he may experience hell until the walls of fear melt from around that person’s heart, and the scales fall from his or her eyes. Then the love and light of God, which was always there, will be known.
It is my opinion that no description of Satan’s Hell can surpass the horrors that we see in the news of this world. The evils of war, the torture of one person by another, the abuse of children, the rape of women, the destruction of the earth, the wanton greed that smothers the human spirit: these are the things that separate humanity from their Divine Creator and from each other. These are the images of Hell on Earth. This is the Hell from which I want to be saved!
How can there be so much evil on this planet, created by God of Love and Light? How did we come to separate ourselves so completely from our Divine Creator? Some people blame all of this evil on Satan or Lucifer - who may or may not be the same being. There is a lot of confusion concerning who these entities are, and according to a very informative article by the Theosophical Society, they are not at all the same. As delineated in this article: http://www.theosophy-nw.org/theosnw/world/christ/xt-ibel2.htm, there is no scriptural basis for the widely-accepted legend of Lucifer/Satan: “It appears that the whole story of Lucifer as Satan, the fallen rebellious angel, is based entirely on non-canonical sources: the so-called Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha.”
Maybe we can’t blame the evil we see on some non-human entity. Perhaps the evils of greed and selfishness are just the result of humanity’s separation from our divine source, the embodiment of love. It will take a huge leap of imagination for some to consider the possibility that the very religious forefathers who set the doctrines and creeds for people to live by for two millenia are the ones who are responsible for the mistaken belief that humanity must remain separate from God. They told us that Jesus is the ONLY son of God, and no, God does not have a daughter – what a blasphemous idea! They told us that anyone who does not accept this decree, and anyone who does not profess Jesus to be the ONLY way to God, will be damned forever. They told us that we are sinful worms, undeserving of God’s love if we don’t believe that Jesus sacrificed himself to pay our debts. They did their best to take the message of Love out of the Scriptures and instill fear and unbelief in the hearts of God’s children. This fear and lack of belief in our own divine power has greatly contributed to the hellish environment in which we live.
However, the early church fathers did not manage to twist or hide all of the encouragement Jesus blessed us with. One way he encouraged us was to say: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14) He also said: “Truly, I tell all of you with certainty, the one who believes in me will also do what I am doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the father.” (John 14:12)
Jesus also promised this: "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you!” (Luke 17:6) and then: “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20)
And so I contend: When enough people recognize their oneness with God, as Jesus did when he said: I and the Father are One” (John 10:30), our faith, and love, and wisdom will rid the world of the hell we have created here. Evil will be no more. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Rev. 21:4). But those who want to keep the old order so they can wage war against one another can remain in the hell they have created for as long as they wish!
This is my interpretation of damnation: that choosing hatred, violence, greed, and separation from Love will allow those who enjoy the power they get from these qualities to stay in hell. Those who recognize their Oneness with God, Love, and Divine Light will find themselves in the kingdom of heaven which Jesus said has been within us all along. (Luke 17:21) So it will be: that the refining fire of divine love will burn the man-made bridge to hell.