Things I’m not sure matter anymore

The two big ones–heaven and hell.  To some Christians, the whole point of believing, being a member of the church, is that they will go to heaven after they die, and those who are not Christians or don’t go to church (or go to the wrong church, or aren’t good enough members of the right church) go to hell.  “No salvation outside the church” and all that.

Nonsense.

I say this partly because 50% of my genetic composition comes from a Jewish mother, and I’m not quite ready to believe that the original people chosen by God are automatically condemned to some kind of mythological eternal punishment because they did not ‘accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior’ (and where did the Bible say that was a prerequisite to paradise, anyway?). I have friends who are members of other religions, or no religion at all–but if I really believe that God does not hate anything/anyone that God has made (and mostly, I do), I’m not able to swallow the idea that these good, intelligent, generous people are going to suffer for eternity.  If I bought that, I’d have to say ‘God is not loving’, and really renounce any remaining Christian identity that I still have. 

It’s also problematic for adults, whether religious or not, to base their lives on such a simplistic reward/punishment system.  If you ‘love’ Jesus just because you think it’s getting you into heaven, or keeping you out of hell, it’s a pretty thin love.  It’s more like a form of spiritual gold-diggery (if that is not a word, it ought to be, so I declare it now is).  You’re in the relationship because you expect to get some kind of reward for doing so–not because you find any intrinsic value in the other party.

But mostly, I go back to the ‘prayer that Jesus taught us’.  It says absolutely nothing about going to heaven after we die.  The only mention of heaven is ‘your will be done, on earth as in heaven.’  To me, that has nothing to do with some post-mortem reward.  It’s a demand to make earth more like heaven, a place where God might be pleased to hang out for a while.  And the answer to that prayer is not some miraculous occurrence, but the inspiration to make it that way.  We have to participate, and it might even mean that we need the help of those who don’t profess Christian faith in any way, to make it happen.

Interestingly, the prayer Jesus taught us makes no mention whatsoever of hell.  If Jesus thought hell was important, don’t you think he’d have taught us to pray not to go there? 

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