Perspective makes all the difference as we navigate life; our awareness and perception of reality is what is orients us. Having a valid frame of reference is key.
Christ helps us here by teaching us to fear: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mt 10:28)
In other words, Christ says all the pain and suffering people may cause one another on Earth, all the atrocities, mayhem and crimes against humanity, these pale in comparison with the suffering God will impose on all who despise and neglect Him. (Lk 12:4-5) Not even close.
Imagine our world as a large, thin sheet of rice paper, suspended far above a raging fire. We’re all walking around on this frail, brittle sheet as if it’s terra firma, rock solid, unconcerned, as if we’re in no danger. Yet, one by one, we all drop through, down into the flames below. (Lk 16:22b-23) Some die welcoming an end to temporal suffering, oblivious of the eternal torment awaiting them; others drop unexpectedly in an instant. In either case, all false perception, all lies, all vain hopes and dreams, they vaporize as mist before the flame. Terror consumes us (Ps 73:19) and there’s no turning back. (Pr 1:27-28)
This perspective may seem surreal, superstitious, cruel. Yet it’s offered as reality by the Son of God Himself. If anyone knows proper perspective, Jesus Christ does. We ignore Him at our vast peril.
To heed Christ’s warning is to value one thing above all (Php 3:13-14): to be so aligned with God right now that whenever it’s our turn to drop into eternity, we know He’ll be waiting to receive us and conduct us safely to Himself (Lk 16:22-23), rather than saying, “Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” (Mt 5:23)
There’s no concern more relevant, no consequence more sobering than this, yet who among us is concerned? Even for themselves, much less for others? Who is asking, as the old prophet, “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Is 33:14)
The truth? Most all of us will burn, and it’s our own fault: though He’s invited us all to come, to repent and believe, to strive to enter (Lk 13:24), so very few will seek and find the way. (Mt 7:13-14) False hope here, deadening the soul into complacency, is the worst. It is wisdom to diligently make our calling and election sure. (2Pe 1:10)