Reine Duell Bethany - Author and Illustrator
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My Truth versus THE TRUTH

Easter has just passed. We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The eternal life of the human soul has been affirmed.
     I do believe that our souls are eternal. We will all spend eternity in either heaven or hell.
     How do we know whether we will go to heaven or to hell? The amount of theological ink spilled on this question, if collected in one location, would need a hollow planet to contain it  all.
    I don't worry about this question anymore. My conviction is that my disobedience to Jesus brings hell to earth, and my obedience to Him brings heaven to earth. Therefore, I concern myself with what Jesus wants me to do and what He does not want me to do.
     He does want me to tell the truth: God loves every person with a passion that goes to the point of dying for us all. He does not want me to tell only MY truth, which will be that I am full of fiery feelings and want an excuse to let my anger spill onto another person.
       Most often, speaking the truth of God's love means showing people how worthy of love they are without telling them, "You're acting awful" -- a general assertion that only causes people's psyches to slam shut, and their offensive behavior to worsen. Maybe I feel that my neighbors indulge in obnoxious engine noise because they want to feel powerful and large,but God is not helped if I say, "Neighbors, you are immature and inconsiderate." Saying such things might feel to me like I spoke a hard truth they should hear, but in reality it isn't THE TRUTH -- it's just my truth: I am frustrated with the noise and am using my frustration as an excuse to spew unkind, punishing words.
     THE TRUTH is that God passionately loves them, and so must I. I only need to explain with quiet, respectful determination that their noise-making is bothering me. Through the course of months, after enough conversational assertions, meanwhile affirming that I like and care for them but want simply to have the noise reduced, the noise goes away. Very few people will keep bothering someone that they know genuinely likes them and wishes them well. It takes time for the issue to be clear -- that I like and respect my neighbors, but am disturbed by the noise. Meanwhile, I have to be considerate of my neighbors, too, like making sure that if I burn branches in my fire pit, I don't allow the fire to get so high that the smoke travels into their yards. In this persistent truth-telling -- I love you and I trust you to hear me eventually when I speak, and I want you to know I'll listen to you, too -- the love of God becomes an earthly reality.
     Heaven and hell start here on earth, and I decide which one I will choose for my dwelling. God has made that choice possible through Jesus.

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