Hell, they say, is paved with good intentions*. We can easily believe that, as we think of all the pain suffered by people waiting on promised help that never came, denied even the option of finding real help elsewhere from trusting in false promises. The indulgences that become deadly addictions, and abuses continually suffered, despite the best and most sincere intentions to stop. The living corpses of the lost, piled up on those streets of good intentions, in perfect pain outwardly and complete regret inwardly, resting without rest on streets of good intentions.
We read in the Revelation that the streets of the Heavenly City are paved with gold so pure as to be clear as glass. In "One of those stories," there was a man gained permission to carry something with him to Heaven: He knew his days were short, and so he sold everything off and bought gold. He arrived at the gates with his trunk, and the angels all gathered around to see what kind of treasure he had chosen. Upon seeing the shiny gold bricks which he so proudly displayed to these mighty creatures, he was shocked into reality as he heard them say, "What? You brought paving stones?"
In Peter we read that our faith is to be compared with the most precious gold, as the heat of the trials and temptations we face serve to purify that faith; and also in Psalms that God's word to us is as gold purified in fire seven times. We also hear, from old time, that Hell is paved with good intentions. This leaves us with a clear picture of two choices. If we walk by faith, then each step we take we take by faith when our sight may tell us there is no place there for our feet. But our
focus is not on the pavement under our feet, but the Lord Who leads the way. Real faith is the stuff of an effective Christian life. Good intentions can allow us to sit back and comfort ourselves that we are "moving in the right direction" whether or not there is any motion involved. Jesus gave us a story about two sons, whom their father sent to do some work. One said he'd go, but never got there. The other said, "Forget it," but wound up going. And the Lord asked, asks us today, which was the obedient son? If our faith today is not producing results, if we are not expressing that faith outwardly, then either the faith is mere opinion, or it is being stifled and suffocated by fear, pride, and other forms of un-faith. James never tries to pick out a difference between the two except to say of opinion, "the devils also believe, and tremble;" and that, whether in effect or in the final tally, "as the body without the spirit (or breath?) is dead, faith, also, without works is dead."
The United States now has a President who openly endorses the murder of the unborn up to the moment of birth, and who asked the "blessing" of a pagan cleric "bishop" to pray for him to "the god of all understandings." We have, first of all, our own Christian selves to thank as we have drawn away from any effective Christian witness for the sake of our own self-esteem, American dream, and personalized comfort zones. We live complacently in our little religious presumptions,
willingly ignorant of the thousands of souls being stupefied in the clubs, embittered in the prisons, or just sweetly assured of false hopes in their day-to-day "normal" lives, with not so much real prayer in our own lives to even be aware of the Lord's burden for them.
*Someone will say, "But isn't it that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions?" Well, it seems that the 18th century version didn't mention the road going there, but the fact is that we are each one either citizens of one city or the other, and in a real sense we are already living there. So let me ask: Is your own life one of self-gratification and lust, of frustration, grudges, regrets, and coveting? Or is your heart free of these things, and are you living a life of single-minded love to God, the Church (all Christians), and your neighbor? Let's each of us examine ourself in these real ways, to see whether we be in the faith, or merely in the traffic flow on the broad road that leads to destruction.