Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I don't care about Heaven any more

I don't care about heaven any more. I'm not really convinced I ever did ~ maybe long ago, when I was very young and small, but that's just a guess. I don't really remember ever caring about heaven, especially in the way people tend to think of heaven.

What is heaven to most people? Seems like heaven is a reward for a life lived well. Or maybe, heaven is a reward for trying to live well. Or, maybe for repentance. Or even, maybe, for loving/accepting/acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah. This is the heaven I don't care about.

I don't care about heaven, at least that heaven (see the above paragraph), because caring about that heaven would force me to be entirely oriented toward the future to the exclusion of the present. I don't care about that heaven because in that cosmology, the other person only matters as far as heaven (or salvation) is concerned; the other person, in that cosmology, doesn't have any intrinsic value. I don't care about a heaven in which my neighbor represents nothing more than an objective, a goal.

If I'm going to think or talk about heaven at all, it would only be in reaction to a promise ... to the promise. I believe that G-d, in Christ, has communicated for us the promise of a better future. I don't know what that future will look like, but I believe that it's a future which G-d has promised for all of creation. Maybe we'll realize this future when we die, but that's entirely up to G-d. It's not up to me, and will not be determined by me and my actions. I'm not powerful enough to decide whether I'll 'go to heaven when I die', and neither are you (unless, of course, one of you my seven readers is G-d).

So, if I can't do anyting about what happens after I die, then I'm free to focus on, and live in, the present. I'm free to work toward a better future before I die.

What if we were to believe that heaven is promised when we die, but is also accessible before we die? Would it compel us to work more diligently and faith-fully on behalf of those children of G-d who don't enjoy the good things that we enjoy? Would trusting in G-d's promise, and therefore not caring about after-death heaven, free us to be active in visualizing and working toward a better world here and now? What if we believed the prayer?

... Your kingdom come ... on earth as it is in heaven.


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