And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15
I’ve often said that my greatest life problem hasn’t been drugs. Drugs are just a symptom of my worst life problem – me. I do what I want, and I have a naturally self-destructive appetite. The thing is, I know what I want often isn’t healthy. I understand that when I eat too much today, I’ll be fatter tomorrow. While I’m indulging though, I’m not thinking about tomorrow. I’m only consumed with right now. As I’m eating poorly, I’m purposefully blocking out the concept of future consequences. As I’m enjoying my donuts, I don’t want to think about the weight gain. That would ruin the enjoyment. So, I put consequences out of my head, choosing to ignore certain unavoidable realities.
I did this in my drug addiction. I knew that I could lose my family and career, and so, I spent a tremendous amount of effort trying to avoid thinking about those possibilities. To get my behavior to go places it never should have gone, I had to silence and ignore my conscience, which was screaming at me to stop. I had to lie to myself, trying desperately to convince myself that I could get away with it. While using, I avoided thinking about the future.
Today’s passage then, is a brutal but much needed slap in the face of my tendency to ignore future consequences. In the passage, John wrote of God’s great throne of final judgment. One day, we will all stand before it. If we’ve placed our faith in Christ, following his will, receiving forgiveness in him, then our names will be found in the book of life and we will enter eternal paradise. If, however, we’ve rejected God, following our own way, then we will find our eternal destiny to be the lake of fire.
I don’t like to think about this. I don’t like to think about the fate of all those who have no interest in God or his will. Honestly, I prefer a faith that says we all go to heaven. If I believe in the Bible though, which I do, then I must accept that I’m not God and I don’t make the rules. If I make up a faith that says we all go to heaven in the end, then I’m just following my own fantasy. The truth, according to the Bible, is that our beliefs and actions matter, affecting our afterlife. Today, we can choose to follow ourselves to hell, or we can follow Christ to heaven. How we live today matters and our eternal destiny hangs in the balance.