The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
~ 2 Peter 3:9
I couldn’t believe what I heard over my car radio. An elderly evangelical pastor spoke gloating words of accusation. He told the story of a man who claimed to be a Christian, but this man’s life reflected ungodly behaviors. This pastor, with sarcastic tones, spoke his loud, high-pitched gleeful words, “Someday when this man dies, he will split the gates of hell wide open!” I could not see this pastor’s facial expression, but his arrogant timbre made me cringe. These were not merely words of warning; they were words of indictment. I turned the radio off.
How many of us have learned gratification when the superheroes like Batman, Superman, Thor, Captain America, Spiderman, and Flash defeat their super-villains? We were all thrilled when Darth Vader fell to his death and when the wicked witch of the west melted into a puddle.
These are only cartoon characters, yet they train us to relish punishment for bad people. Some churches don’t realize the harm they are causing by teaching the bias of “the saved” and prejudice of “the unsaved.” I have even heard Christians who gloat over someone spending eternity in torment and pain. The questions are, “Does this revenge satisfy our need?” and “Will this retribution right the wrong?”
God created us, and God redeemed us. It is only in His power and might to grant whatever He wishes. God in Christ, Jesus came in His love to the super-villains of this world, and I admit to fitting the criterion of a villain. I am a wretched sinner. Yet God thought that I, a wicked scoundrel, was worth redeeming. He even loves me enough to mold me to look more like Him each day, pulling me out of old villain inclinations.
If we do wish someone an eternity of pain and suffering, we may want to reevaluate our salvation. Are we a villain? God doesn’t want anyone to perish, so why should we?
Forgive me, Father, for passing judgment on others. Show me all people through your eyes. In Christ, I pray, Amen.
~ Jenny Calvert