…but am I willing to go to Hell? (CrossCon Reflections #4)

My ministry has taken me to more than 35 countries.  Some were beautiful – it’s hard to complain about 2 years in Paris, or nine years in the south of France.  I’ve listened to a yodeling choir in Switzerland, walked the walls of Old Jerusalem at sunset, ate the best meal of my life in a fancy hotel in Thailand, and marveled at the beauty of the Taj Mahal.

Some places were more challenging.  I lived for two years on the edge of a swamp in malaria-riddled Cameroon, and watched my infant daughter come close to death there from dehydration due to giardia.  I’ve strolled the frozen streets of Urumqi, China, in January, walking on ice that would cover the sidewalks for six or seven months.

The town of Abeche, Chad, is at the top of my “hard places” list.  A hot wind whistled off the Sahara desert, trash filled the streets and blew through the air, and the glances of many of the Chadians seemed (to this paranoid Westerner) to be full of suspicion and hostility.  It was a place that I was embarrassingly glad to leave.

David-Platt-CroppedWhen I’m honest, I admit that I’ve taken prideful satisfaction at my willingness to travel, even to hard places, for the sake of the gospel.  But on the last night of the Cross Conference, David Platt blew all of that pride out of the water with one simple question.

He asked if I am willing to go to hell.

The question troubled me at first, even sounded mildly heretical.  But listen to the context, and it will make sense.

He was preaching on the book of Romans – that’s right, his message covered pretty much the whole book (you won’t believe how he did it, and I HIGHLY recommend you listen to the message here).  After underlining the importance of the gospel in the first 8 chapters, he said this: “Those of us who have embraced this beautiful gospel must be willing to go to hell on behalf of those who have not.”

He then read Romans 9, in which Paul’s love for his countrymen and his anguish over their lostness prompts him to say: “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (9:3).  Paul’s “great sorrow” (vs. 2) over their need for Christ created in his heart the sense that, if it would lead to their salvation, he would be willing to stand on the shores of the lake of fire and jump in.

I’ve been to some hard places.  But is my love for those around me so strong that I would be willing to go to hell if it meant that they could go to heaven?

David Platt’s question popped my prideful bubble, and showed me how far I have to go.  It was painful, but it was inspiring, and it’s given me a new goal.

On my Sabbath hike tomorrow, I’ll be asking God to create in me the kind of love that He gave to Paul.  I know it is the first and irreplaceable step to becoming like Christ, and seeing the world through His eyes.

Let me know if you would like me to pray the same prayer for you.

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About Sabbath Thoughts

My name is Mike Gaston. I am a former missionary, a Shepherding Pastor at Heights Church in Prescott, AZ, a happy husband, a spoiled father of two daughters, a proud grandfather, and a recently-convinced pursuer of the benefits of intentional, regular, contemplative, Christ-centered rest. This blog will allow me to share thoughts about Sabbath, as well as thoughts about God and the Christian life that come out of my restful Sabbath moments.
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14 Responses to …but am I willing to go to Hell? (CrossCon Reflections #4)

  1. debra petrella says:

    willing to go to hell, wow what a humbling thought. I’m not sure how to even process that, do I love the unsaved that much. this is an excellent thing to ponder, to remind me why we are here and whom it is we serve.

  2. Sherry Yoo says:

    Thank you, Mike, for your bold question. I recently went on-line and watched David Platt deliver that very powerful message from Cross-Con. My emotions were all over the place as I listened. I have heard him speak many times but this particular message resonated deeply. And I just had the privilege of hearing him again at the Truth and Life Conference, where the topic was sanctification but he managed to close the conference last night with a call to missions :). A call to hurt deeply for the unsaved. A call to go and do instead of just thinking and pondering about going and doing.

    So, back to that question you asked. I am sitting here the morning after my 3 day conference all fired up. Convicted. Motivated. So I want to say yes, pray for me. But I want to mean it. Now, next week, next month, and next year.


  3. ccoudry@att.net says:

    Hi Pastor Mike, yes please pray the prayer for me also. Grace to you ,Jacqui Coudry

    Sent from my iPad

  4. rebirthdaymovie says:

    Yes please! And the gates of hell will not be able to prevent the rescues.

  5. Sandy Dierckman says:

    Yes! Please, please pray the same prayer for me! Thank you, Mike, for all you do for us in the body and praise God for who you are. S

    Sent from my iPhone


  6. Pierre Petrignani says:

    Merci pour cette réflexion, Mike! Dans l’Ancien Testament, Moïse a montré le même amour pour son peuple: cf Exode 32:32. Seul Jésus est allé jusqu’au bout…

    • Pierre, merci de penser à Moïse – je n’y avais pas pensé. Et tu as raison, Paul marche dans les pas de Jésus, qui a pris sur Lui les conséquences de nos péchés et donc d’une certaine façon est allé à l’enfer pour nous. Quel amour !

  7. Glad to pray for you, ladies! Thanks for chiming in.

  8. Bernie brook says:

    Thank you, Mike. Yes, please include me in the prayer to love as Christ loved and see people with the filter of his love. I will also be praying for you during your Sabbath Walk tomorrow. Thanks for your inspiration.

  9. Tamara Cross says:

    Yes, please, include me in your prayer. I have been asking God to give me His heart of love for people, but I know that I must begin by loving HIM as I should, and I do not. To my shame, I do not. My heart is cold compared to what it should be, and so this journey may be long. But I begin now because I know I should, and it’s my desire to do honor to Him by doing His will, and so I’ll just show up every day and ask the same things and pray the same prayers and do what small things I can do and hope… and HOPE… that He has mercy on me and changes my heart as I have asked. I do desire it. I wish I could flip a switch and achieve it. Maybe I should thank Him that I can’t, seeing as He must have set things up to be the way are, me crying out and persevering and looking to Him for any ability at all. Lets hope I have this right.

    • Praying for you, Tamara – I love to pray for people I haven’t met yet. I predict you will find Him to be incredibly patient, and relentless, in His mission to make you like Christ. That has been my experience, and I will pray that it will be yours too. Let me know how I can help.

      • Tamara Cross says:

        Mike, in the daily business of life, I had forgotten about this thread and our exchange. I am grateful that I stumbled on it in my email box again, because I would like to share with you that in just the last week or so, I believe that I perceive changes in my heart toward God and (all) the little people that He created and loves. I know that feelings often shift like mist and am tempted to hold my breath… but I dare to begin to hope in REAL, lasting change from His hand that could be used for His plans (large or small). What joy when I catch even a trace of it – what mercy that He would continue to trouble with me. Grateful, grateful. Thank you for your prayers. May He recompense you many times over.

      • Great to hear, Tamara -thanks for keeping me in the loop.

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