Six of Sixty - Number 5

Continuing the celebration of "So There I Was ..."

From the Section of Post-Modern Theology

Hell's Freezing Over

So there I was ...

sitting at a lunch table with a group of insightful, visionary, powerful, spiritual women. We were talking about what it would take for our corner of the Body of Christ to embrace an application of our professed testimony of equality. Specifically, what it would take for the spiritual sea to change enough to make gender identity and sexual orientation non-obstacles to membership and ministry.

“What if we just opened that door and walked through it and let them watch? – Maybe they’d follow.” I proposed.

“Yeah, when Hell freezes over!” said one of my sisters.

That phrase haunted me for a while after that. It rattled around in my heart like a marble in a glass milk bottle. Then the bottle broke, and it was spilt milk all over, but I had a jagged glass epiphany.

That is our job. That is precisely our job. We are supposed to be freezing Hell. Turning the thermostat of evil down till the devil is wearing thermal underwear.

Hell requires conflagration. Badness expends huge energy. Evil itches and requires lots of scratching, which leads to angry inflammation. Hellfire can be quenched.

The best way to chill inequality is to not participate in it, not cooperate with it, not ignore it. Racism is not by any means conquered in our world or our church. But in our country in the last century, it has been moderated by courageous people refusing to accept that it is the norm. Racism lives, but Jim Crow is history. People, a few people at first, just refused to be segregated, black people and white people. They just stopped participating. They had a chilling effect on evil.

We were created to be effective. Each one of us individually and all of us together.

Individually, we can douse and stomp on fires of evil that spark up around us. As a people of God we can be the cool soft rain that puts the forest fire to bed.

Hell loves a mob; especially a trauma crazed mob, an unthinking, angry mob. Hell especially loves an armed mob; guns are nice, but machetes will do. But it is amazing what a few people or even one person can do to a mob. Hell was having a picnic in My Lai, Vietnam when Hugh Thompson, Lawrence Colburn and Glenn Andreotta landed their helicopter between their comrades and their comrade’s innocent prey. They stopped the carnage. The devil considered those guys to be party crashers. They were called traitors when they got home. Eventually, they were decorated as heroes.

What we don’t know is how many similar atrocities, in that war, and in the wars since then, including the travesty of a conflict we are engaged in now, have been stopped short by one person saying, “Hey, that’s not what we’re here for” or “Don’t even think about it.” They don’t get written up as heroes for preventing evil. It happens all the time. The devil doesn’t want you to know that he gets thwarted a thousand times for every time he succeeds in getting drunk on mayhem.

And don’t think that it is only warriors who block disaster. I have seen a pig-tailed eight-year-old walk into a knot of bullies and take a scared six-year old by the hand and walk them out with a “Shame on you – I’m telling” look.

The truth is that evil is the sissy. Our spiritual adversary and all his minions are cowards of the first order. Hell can be frozen by the kindness of a child, the courage of a man, the voice of a boy, the persistence of an old woman. All we have to do is wake up, speak up, and step right in.

That reminds me; I don't know who pointed it out, but Jesus' description of His Church stating that "the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it" is not about a defense of the church. Cities at war rarely took their gates to attack another city, so this is about an active church with the enemy on the run, or at least defensive.
I've read through the book, it only gets better. The way you arranged it by general topic is great. How's the new one coming?

Wow Nate - the gates of Hell - what a brilliant and obvious observation! How have we missed that one?

This also speaks to the very nature of Hell. Not God's dungeon for tossing and tormenting people God is mad at, but a citadel meant to be overrun and defeated.

Wow. Go, Peggy!!
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