How often have you seen the chain posts on social media that tell you to type “Amen,” or “If you scroll instead of like this post, you are going to hell”?
I call it “Christian Clickbait.” The intention isn’t to bring you closer to God but to gain hits.
There are some Christians who love to put on their crosses and show pride in their faith. At the same time, some think they can save others by forcing them to say a prayer. My former church used the line, “Save the lost at any cost,” which was written on a mural in their sanctuary. Some churches believe all it takes is one confession to Christ and proclaiming to give your life to Him…and then they leave you alone.
It is by grace we are saved, but I’d argue it’s the most forgotten fact in Christendom. Many prefer to save people through the very spirit the Lord condemns: Fear. The sad part is it’s not the responsibility of the children of God to save people – it’s our job to make disciples. It’s Jesus who does the saving.
Have you ever heard of Hell Houses?
They are Christian haunted houses designed to show guests a glimpse of hell with the intent to get them saved by the end. One of the high-end ones I was once a part of was “the 99.” I started getting flashbacks from my childhood trying to play a gang member in bullying other people, and they put me at the tables at the end to encourage people to leave the scared guests to find safety in Jesus.
It was the first time I started questioning my church.
They kept preaching against the spirit of fear, yet used it to bring people into their fold. It wasn’t the first time my church used me in its Hell House tactics. In a different iteration, they had me play an inmate in a cell. One of the other members kept making suicide jokes and running around with an actual knife during practice. I was punished for being “triggered.”
It felt wrong even though everyone in their room gave their life to Christ after my performance.
There was one pastor of another church who put it to me this way: “Say you’re in a burning building, but the building is invisible. I’m going to do everything in my power to drag you out of that burning building, even if you don’t know it’s there. When everything is said and done, you’ll end up thanking me even if I had to hurt you to get you out.”
That frightening explanation was the main reason I left Christianity for a time to actually find Jesus.
The Spirit of Fear
1 John 4:18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
If you follow Jesus because you fear His judgment at the end everything…that’s not love.
This is why I believe fear-inducing tactics lead more people to hell than Heaven. Whether one thinks it’s correct or not, thumping a Bible over one’s head instead of using empathy can kill.
Jesus saved the woman about to get stoned for infidelity.
He went through the rejection of the people and even died for our sins, and yet people think sinners should meet a similar fate.
The King James version of the Bible says ‘Fear not’ or ‘Be not afraid’ 103 times. Many people who use these cowardly methods to keep people ‘with Jesus’ preach that it’s in the Bible 365. They twist the gospel to keep obedience over love, and it’s a cancer to the Body of Christ.
They use the preaching of not having a spirit of fear as an excuse to use extreme methods to keep the tempo of obedience beating.
There is a difference between fear and respect. Fear prevents you from doing the will of God – respect for Him makes it accessible.
Do Not Fear
Examine yourself honestly; if you follow Christ, why do you follow Him?
Do you “love” Him because you fear being sent to hell, or do you love Him for who He is?
It’s okay to realize your motives aren’t based in love. The acceptance of this fact is your first step toward fixing it. Many people follow Jesus because of fear, and it’s not the perfect love He desires of you.
Don’t kick yourself. It’s a common mistake. Instead, repent and learn more about who Jesus really is by actually spending time reading your Bible.
If you don’t, and you were hurt by people with a fear-centered theology, let me be the first to say I’m sorry. I’ve been there. You can snap out of it.
I hope you find a love-based community where you don’t have to fear for your soul. That’s my prayer for you.