How to go to hell

           The rich man also died and was buried.
           In Hades, where he was being tormented,
           he looked up and saw Abraham far away
           with Lazarus by his side
                           â€”Luke 16.22-23

Everything in scripture, including the words of Jesus,
is deeply symbolic language.
Images of heaven and hell are about
the moral universe, not the physical one.
But for you literalists, listen up:
Jesus mentions only twice what you think of as hell,
an afterlife of punishment for bad behavior:
the rich man and Lazarus, and the great judgment (Matt. 25).
Both times, notice how you end up in hell:
by ignoring the poor.
It’s not your beliefs, or your sex life, or anything else;
it’s how you treat the poor.
Why? Because God is poor, and to love God you must love the poor.
Because when you hide behind the gate of your privilege
(fearful of your own poverty of spirit)
you cut yourself off from God’s grace.
Because love is purest going to those who can’t repay;
anything else isn’t really love.
Because God is in everyone;
when you distance yourself from the unsavory
you are far from God.
Heaven is where everybody is.
Hell is where only some people are.
You choose.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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