It was Hell
I remember a story from one of my favorite pastors Philip Mantofa. He tells a story of how his church was planted.
During that time, there was mass unrest and riots in the area. The city was literally burning on fire with no end in sight. As a result people were leaving in flocks for their safety.
It was hell on earth.
At that time, Philip lived in a different city. But the Lord spoke to him and told him to move him and his family to that city on fire. Wrestling with this he asked the Lord, "Why?". And the Lord said something to the effect of:
People are leaving because it is hell on earth. However, I am calling you to move to hell in order to bring heaven to earth!
What a calling!
And so he moved his family to that city in the midst of the chaos and planted what would be his church. His church is one of the largest in the area seeing thousands and thousands of people being rescued.
As I read this, the sky over Los Angeles is filled with ash and smoke.
Because of the massive fires it is an ominous red of death. It is somewhat a microcosm for what this year has looked like for many people. Covid, riots, unrest, division–all real and metaphorical fires for the hell we now live in.
After talking with a lot of people, many people have thought about or entertained the idea of moving elsewhere.
There is too much chaos
It is too expensive to live here
It is too political and divisive here
It is too volatile
These are all valid reasons that make perfect sense but I felt like the Lord brought this story to mind to ask me and us this question:
What hell are we called to?
As the people of God, we are not to live our lives chasing comfort. But like Philip Montofa he is asking us “Where is the hell God is calling us?” For we are the light and salt of the earth. And being sent to an earth that is, in many senses, on fire.
I feel that the time for the church to do "business as usual" will be over (thank God). In darkness, true light shines. It is our time to shine. It isn't time for us to cower away in safety and comfort but to ask, "Lord, where do you want to bring light and healing on earth?"
Church–it's time to bring heaven on earth!
Lord help us not to have fear in this time. Help us to number our days because our lives our fleeting. Help us to see the value of our lives and our purpose on earth before our passing. Because hell is upon us and that is exactly where you shine brightest. So send forth your light and your truth upon your people so that we can indeed shine the brightest! Amen.