I wish I could get it across that what Jesus lived and taught has almost no relationship with the “hate-ianity” that masquerades as Christianity across the press, airways and religious institutions today.
What should be a grace-infused, fully-life-giving, all-welcomed, heavenly-spaces-opened, mystery-explored, forgiveness and reconnection-enjoyed experience has turned into a “gotta hate gays, gotta vote republican, gotta be sure and send everyone who believes differently to eternal conscious torment” religious charade.
Now, the “gotta-hate” group makes better headlines. And the “gotta send everyone else to hell” mentality makes for tighter cohesive groups where if we are in, we are really in. A kind of emotional security many need comes with that. The “gotta vote Republican” mindset makes it so much easier to skip the nuances and sub-texts of the political debates and positions, and just take the easier non-thinking stance where we vote as the loudest voices insist.
But, I ask, is this the way we want to live our lives? Is this what we hope eternity with God will look like?
I ask that last question because I suggest we are in the process of creating our own eternity. Consider the story Jesus told in Luke 16 about the rich man who indulged himself all his life. In so doing, he cared not one bit about the poor one who sat at his gate, ill and barely surviving on food dropped from the rich man’s table. After both of their deaths, the rich man discovered that his eternity mirrored the hellish earthly life of the poor man whom he had ignored. The poor man found comfort and care in eternity denied to him before.
So I wonder . . if the way we live is primarily hateful and exclusive, will our eternity also be the same? After all, if God turns out to be the manifestation of perfect love that willingly gathers in those whom we’ve already deemed unacceptable, then the hate and exclusiveness embedded in our souls would make us loathe to enter a place filled with those we’ve despised so thoroughly.Many pray daily or weekly (or at least everyone once in a while) these words: “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
The highest and happiest call of all is to do that kind of “God’s kingdom coming” living and working while on earth.
Assuming at some point you and I have prayed those words, “God’s kingdom come,” the way we live now reveals what we want that kingdom to be like.
Do we routinely denigrate or put down others in order to build up our own position? Then the heaven we are creating will be a dog-eat-dog world.
Do we grab what we want when we want it without regard to the needs of others? If so, then our heaven will be a place of greed and selfishness.
Do we use anger and intimidation to get our way? Then we would best be prepared to be afraid, even terrified, when stepping into eternity, for fear will be our everlasting companion.
Do we think certain people groups are less worthy than we of privilege and basic human rights? Then we may find ourselves stepped over and spat upon.
Do we find life adventurous and hopeful? Then our vistas will expand even further.
Do we celebrate the achievements of others? Then we may enjoy the accolades ourselves.
Do we make into daily habits the practices of patience, kindness, and life-giving light? Then let’s get ready to walk into the light that transforms everything into perfection.
Are we delighted to give forgiving grace to others because we have delighted in receiving that from God? Then we shall enter into the most transformational of all spaces where lightness of soul gives us an eternity to wander through the heart of God.
That’s what I’m hoping for—and need to live out now.