Sticking My Head in the Sand
God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you . . . inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction . . . 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9
As my addiction grew, consuming more of my life, part of me knew that my behavior would eventually be discovered. I managed to stifle that part of me though, telling myself that I could get away with it. I was diverting opioid pills for my own use, but I convinced myself that my judgement day would never come. I promised myself I’d stop before I wrecked everything good in my life. I can enjoy my pills and eventually, I’ll quit before anyone finds out. No one will get hurt, and I’ll just walk away. No consequences . . .
I was, of course, very wrong. Sticking my head in the sand couldn’t stop the approaching calamity and by the time I saw it coming, it was too late. Consequences fell like a hammer, crushing me and everyone close to me. In my addiction, I ignored the future, but once it arrived, I was forced to accept a painful reality – I was going to suffer for my poor life choices.
In today’s passage, Paul said something similar about the future of those who reject God. He explained that God considers it just to one day inflict punishment on those refuse to follow him. Paul taught that those who deny faith in God, in the afterlife, will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord.
I honestly don’t like to think or write about this. I’d prefer that everyone go to heaven after death. This isn’t a democracy though in which I get to vote and wanting or pretending something to be true doesn’t make it so. It does no good to stick my head in the sand to avoid an approaching reality. God made the world, and he makes the rules. This is the rule – If I choose to put my faith in him, I spend eternity with him. If I choose not to put my faith in him, I don’t.
God made us and he loves us. He desires that we know him and that we live in an intimate relationship with him. He wants us to spend eternity with him. For love to be love though, we must have a choice. We’re allowed to make the wrong choice, and if we do so, we will suffer the eternal consequences. We don’t have to approve of this plan but pretending it isn’t real doesn’t do us any good.