By Stephen Blackmon
While at a conference in 1999, the Lord blessed me with an idea for a novel. It took me the following ten years “experiencing God” to write it. And the process was incredible. I was blessed with many revelations about our existence here, and about the Lord Himself. A large portion of the novel takes place in Heaven. And the time I spent in prayer learning about that and our misconceptions about real life was extraordinary to say the least.
However, in time, the Lord began to give me a sequel to the book. As I began to hungrily write my notes and etch out this new narrative, my excitement died. Once again He began blessing me with revelation. But this time it showed me a clearer picture of many of Hell’s residents. As I was given vivid visions of this place of torment, I was thrown by the number of references to church. Many of the images I saw showed people having service. It showed thousands upon thousands of religious, judgmental, hypocritical people who had claimed to be believers.
It’s funny how often we think of Caiaphas (John 18:14) and the Pharisees being people of Paul’s day. All of us today would hate to think that WE are the Pharisees. We hate to think that our need to correct each other, and nit-pick people about biblical law is no better than the Pharisees’ complaints to the Jews of that day about the Sabbath.
The Lord has been blessing me to remember that He clearly shows in scripture how being judgmental and unforgiving are two of the primary things in us that can effectively refuse God’s grace; Christ’s blood, regardless of what we confess (Matt 6:15 & 7).
We the Body of Christ are called to follow after love. Every man can choose justice or grace from God. But whatever we choose for others will apply to us. King David chose justice. And even as a man after God’s heart, when justice came for him after he erred, the price was high – far higher than anything I would ever want to pay.
So I’m looking at me. I plan to follow after love. Isn’t that what made us follow after Christ in the first place. We didn’t receive Jesus because He was righteous. We followed Him because He loved us in spite of our many faults. So as we develop as leaders, shouldn’t we follow His model? If we do truly want to be with Him for all eternity, and not just talk about Him, shouldn’t we try love?
Stephen N. Blackmon
Author of The Price of Paradise