I’m back, now preparing to look at the question “Where am I going when I die?” I’m splitting this article into two parts. Part (a) is wrapping up a loose end I didn’t get to in the interlude and part (b) will serve as a preface to part (c) which will be the question. this’ll be long I’ll warn you, I’m at over 1400 words.
The Quest: Part 5 (a) Good=Evil?
In my Quest interlude, I quoted C. S. Lewis about the moral law, and common moral points people agree on, such as fairness.
However, we really have no cause for morality if good and evil are equally powerful as some believe. I actually find this belief growing more and more popular. People have the attitude “Yeah, good and evil exist, and I wish good was around more, but sometimes evil wins, sometimes good wins, and we can’t do much about it.” We can try to promote good, but then it seems like we’re in the minority, so what’s the point? Besides which, we aren’t even sure which side we’re on, we do good things, and bad things, and many of us fall into the habit of weighing ourselves to see which side is heavier.
I’ll get to that in a second, but first, why do we suppose good and evil are of equal power? That’s just not true. It’s like saying lead and gold are of the same value, they may weigh about the same, but they are not alike. (And there were learned men who thought they could turn lead into gold, so this equal–no difference nonsense has appeared elsewhere than morality) Let me give a more modern illustration: Suppose a sports team won by cheating and the Referee knew it, and let it stand. The bad (their cheating, his ignoring) would seem to have won. If we go by only the physical circumstances. But good and evil are matters of the mind, and the opposing team would complain for a year about it, just as if the bad did not stand, even though it was enforced. (If it was the Super bowl, some people would probably complain for the next decade.) I’ll bet you that Ref wouldn’t stay in his job for long. You see it’s not a matter of wins or losses, otherwise good and evil might indeed be equal, it’s a matter of men’s hearts. Of what is most real to man. A good ref would play by the rules and we would agree he was a good ref. You see my point?
So, no one really considers good and bad to be equal. If good is greater, than I’d expect the Supreme Being (the greater power) to be on the side of good. Therefore the afterlife would contain rewards based on this premise.
But is there a set of rules to get there? Is there punishment if you disobey these rules.
The Quest: Part 5 (b) Needing a bridge.
It is engrained in the human mind that the most powerful person is not only the rule maker but the rule enforcer. So we can expect God to enforce His own rules. The only way to enforce rules is through punishment. Hell is a horrible punishment, so some might say “Why have rules at all? Why not just let everyone into heaven?” Rules (a crude term but I lack a better one) are the map to get into heaven, but why make it so hard to find?
I think there’s a misunderstanding in that. If Heaven is where God is, of course it is good; but good doesn’t stay good if even a tiny bit of bad is let in. Think of a garden. A good place, beautiful, relaxing; but if even one root or seed of a weed is let in, it grows, spreads, and if not checked it destroys the garden. God is a faithful gardener and will not let any weeds in His garden. Now consider, if people don’t want to follow God’s rules even on earth, and are unkind to the people who do (even one selfish act is unkindness) how will they be when God is constantly before them and they are surrounded by people who want to obey him. The rebels would be worse than ever and try to blot out the good. Some might protest that surrounding people with a good environment would change them; okay, it might; but good soil flourishes weeds as well as flowers. The protest will not hold up. Pastor’s kid’s rebel and the children of criminals can choose to be honest people. Men cannot be measured as to how far they’ll go on either the good or bad side of the tracks, at least not by other men.
So if we follow the logic I used, no bad person should be (or could be) allowed into heaven. We might even agree on that, but then we still have a problem, no one of us is innocent of wrongdoing. If even a shred of badness can spread, then God could not risk letting a person with even one sin into heaven. (And that’s laughable because nobody has ever stopped at one.) It wouldn’t be wise. Or would it? If there was some way to guarantee that goodness would win out, then God could show mercy.
Here’s where we reach Christianity. Since we all find ourselves guilty and we cannot erase our bad deeds, we seem to be stuck. Yet we are almost compelled to try anyway, or to wish it were not so. To be doomed to eternal punishment and to be able to do nothing about it, that is the worst fear man can have. No–there’s one worse, that it wouldn’t matter. That we mean nothing to this God we don’t know and once we mess up, we fear that our death will not be mourned. The one thing worse than pain and punishment is being forgotten. Invisible.
So we’re in a pretty wretched state. People ache for a place of complete goodness, no pain, no sickness, no sadness, and on Earth we never find it. If we are ever honest enough to admit we don’t deserve Heaven, we are worse off than before. Worst of all we fear there’s no hope. I believe this is the real reason behind the high suicide rate we see today. Also the many addictions (distractions really) people find themselves trapped in.
The Good News is Christianity provides hope. It says neither are we invisible nor are we forgotten. We are not stuck. Because Jesus–God in the flesh–died for us, took the price of all our bad. Which means we don’t have to be punished, then he rose again, which means we can have a new life. Start over. When I was little a Sunday school teacher illustrated this with a paper chain, first broken, and then fixed. Jesus is the real Missing Link. Our bridge across a chasm. I can’t understand it very well myself, but what the Bible teaches is that Jesus will cover us with his righteousness. What that means is, sort of like delicious icing on a bland cake, God will see not our bad, but Jesus’ good when he looks at us. Covered, but with our human form intact.
(c) Where to go from here.
Concerning Heaven, Jesus said he would go to prepare a place for his followers. I find this a unique idea, only in Christianity, that I know of. It makes so much sense. Having a personal place. Picture it like this, you arrive at a beautiful vacation spot and the owner actually knows you, knows you as well as if you were related; and your oldest and dearest friend is there to welcome you and takes you to a room done just how you would do it if you could, only even better, because they added some stuff they knew you’d like, now imagine every other person there is someone you know, and the food is so good it makes other food taste like sand. Now imagine that this never has to end, and there’s never any mishaps. I believe Heaven will be all this and more.
I want to go, and I wish everyone did, but I’m well aware that the choice is every individuals. All that’s required is an agreement with the Owner, it’s his place after all. It’s funny that some people think they can go to God and say, “I did this and this good, so you need to let me in.” You pay how the owner wants to be paid. All he wants to start with is faith but that’s another story. One that I can’t fit in this series. Keep reading because I’ll have more good stuff posted soon.