A story was told of a young man who died and was taken up to the gates of heaven. St. Peter welcomed him warmly and gave him a brief explanation on the meaning of eternity. Then Peter made an interesting offer: “I will give you the power to choose where you will spend eternity, in heaven or in hell.”
Naturally, the man asked to examine his options. So, he first toured heaven. He observed the pearly gates, streets of gold, serene environment, and countless people wearing white robes and singing hymns of praise to God all the time.
Then the man visited hell where he was met by a smiling Satan accompanied by some gorgeous men and women, exquisite wine on hand. They showed him the lush golf courses, expensive-looking mansions, endless buffet tables, and one party place after another.
“This is a very easy choice,” the man told Peter. “I choose hell.” Peter tried to dissuade him but to no avail; therefore, the man was sent to hell.
Upon arrival, he saw that the place was dark, hot and ugly. The people were all emaciated and were working in what appeared to be a slave labor camp. Satan was there barking orders and whipping those poor souls constantly. When he asked Satan where were all the good stuff he saw on his first visit, Satan said: “Those things are only for those I am recruiting to hell. Now, go and join all my slaves in here!”
Well, of course you know that the story is biblically and theologically inaccurate on several points. But it still reminded me of what Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14–
You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
Hell puts up a warm welcome sign for all of us, and millions are deceived into choosing to spend eternity. The strong, welcoming pull of hell was exactly what I felt when I saw this welcome sign to the Puerto Princesa City Jail. And so there’s no way that I would ever heed that invitation! Would you?
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