As we celebrate the resurrection this Sunday, I find myself reflecting on our tendency in 21st century to miss the point of the gospel message. The good news is that Jesus came to save us, but from what? The number one answer today is likely that Jesus came to save us from hell, from the consequences of our sins. But is that really the goal of Jesus death and resurrection?

In his gospel Matthew tells us that he was named Jesus because He would “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Later we are told that Jesus message was to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Even the “Great Commission” includes an expectation to teach disciples to “observe all that [Jesus] have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). The bottom line is that the goal of Jesus ministry was that people turn from sin and follow him.

Here’s the where I believe the confusion has come. We have come to view just punishment as bad rather than the actions that provoke. As a culture we frown on those who spank their children, because we see spanking as “bad.” Nobody is talking about the bad actions that led to the disciple. We frown on the death penalty as “inhuman,” because we fail to see their victims as human. We view hell as bad, because we cannot image a loving God actually punishing people for their unrighteous actions. Ultimately, we see hell as bad, because we have lost any sense of what sin really means.

As  result of these distortions, we feel a need to be saved from punishment,  because we don’t get that our action warranty the publishment. So instead of having a problem with sin and feeling a need to be rid of sin itself, we long to be freed from sin’s consquenses without needing to change our actions.

Bottom line: What’s worse hell or the sin that necessitates it? What would make the world a better place: getting rid of sin or getting rid of hell?

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