I was recently asked a question that stuck with me for a while. The question was: How do you balance the desire to be a Christian with the desire to simply avoid going to Hell?
My short answer was that you must decide the motivation, whether you are running away from something, or running towards something.
Here are a couple examples to consider:
Politics: There are two candidates to choose from. One of them (candidate A) is hated and some people want ANYONE other than them, it doesn’t make any difference who it is. Some people truly love and support the other candidate (candidate B). If you are voting for candidate B, is it because you love them or because you hate the other option? What is your motivation?
Sports: There are two teams playing soccer. One team (team A) is mediocre at best without a winning record this season. The other team (team B) is spectacularly bad. Throughout the course of the game team B commits so many errors that team A has no choice but to win. Would it be better to say “Team A won that game”, implying that they outscored and outwitted their opponent, or “Team B lost that game”? Both are technically true, but which is a more accurate statement?
So what is your motivation? Is your desire simply to avoid Hell? Are you trying to “be good” to avoid the eternal pain and suffering of an eternity separated from the Creator of the Universe? Or is your motivation to better know that same Creator? To be in relationship with the One who created the whole beautifully amazing world, while specifically creating humankind in His own image? Simply desiring to avoid Hell does not lay the foundation for the kind of relationship that God desires for us. It is a “self-focused”, “all about me” response to an eternal problem. However, an intentional desire to know God and to be known by Him is the foundation for a true, lasting relationship with God. It’s a “God-focused” response.
So what direction are you running today? Are you simply running away from Hell, or running towards the God who is waiting for you with open arms?