A grey, empty town.
It populace was scarce, not due to war, nor famine, but because its people were too quarrelsome.
Could you relate that as a picture of hell? Interestingly, that is exactly how C. S. Lewis depicts hell in his book, The Great Divorce.
“It seems the deuce of a town,” I volunteered, “and that’s what I can’t understand. The parts of it that I saw were so empty. Was there once a much larger population?”
Even though there are discussions whether the “grey” town depicts “hell” or “purgatory” depending how long a human stays there, the reader gets the idea. I was expecting a scary description of hell. Lewis however, takes me by surprise. He relates hell with a phenomenon: Isolation and individualism.
Isolation and individualism are by-products of the lifestyle of modern man. Without much connection to one’s extended family and community, individuals or single families thrive on their own resources. Some exclude God altogether from their lives, others think they do not need anybody else.
Isolation depletes spiritual gifts and talents. Individualism promotes self-gratification and selfishness.
Did the Bible address the phenomenon? Yes. Here’re just some for thoughts of the day:-
“So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” – Romans 12:5
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:25
“An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment.” – Proverbs 18:1
“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” – Galatians 5:18-21
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3
“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” – James 3:14-15
“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” – James 3:16-17
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” – James 5:16
Question: How would you handle Lewis’ proposition regarding hell?