For the sake of this commentary, let’s make two assumptions. First, we’ll assume that a god exists. Next, we’ll refer to the Christian god as the real God.
My question is: Are you going to Heaven?
Traditionally, Christians are taught to believe they’ll go to Heaven as long as they accept Jesus as their true Savior and repent for their sins (it varies among the different denominations). If you believe admittance into Heaven is the result of an ultimate judgement, then I would ask for you to consider participating in this brief thought experiment.
What If Her Standards Are Higher?
What if our admittance into Heaven isn’t based on having faith in the correct god, or acknowledging and regretting our hurtful actions? The scars that we’ve caused others don’t disappear because we’re sorry for causing them – so maybe God doesn’t just ignore them, either.
What if God doesn’t really care if we’ve spent an hour each week in one of the tens-of-thousands of buildings constructed specifically for people to recite passages of praise and worship on Her? Or whether or not we’ve poured water over our newborn baby’s head? Or if we’ve confided our sins to another human being who claims to have the authority to absolve us of our wrongdoings?
Instead, what if God bestowed on each of us varying degrees of privilege and advantage –
Instead, what if God bestowed on each of us varying degrees of privilege and advantage – and we are being judged by how we’ve used our influence to protect and empower those with less? And the kindness we show to others who seem different from us?
What if being born in America as white – or heterosexual, or male, or to a middle-to-upper-class family, or to Christian parents – aren’t actually advantages, at all? What if they’re burdens?
Suppose these attributes, which our society perceives to have value and stature, are not provided as rewards. What if these are meant to be opportunities for us to develop humility, compassion and empathy?
And to pass God’s test, perhaps we are expected to use the voice and influence that these imagined privileges have afforded us to advocate on behalf of the oppressed and voiceless?
Like Maximus at the end of Gladiator as he conquered Rome, only to set her free and give her back to the people – maybe our purpose is to use our place of privilege to reject the very idea of privilege.
What if, every time we condemn a homosexual for their lifestyle in the name of what God wants, we’re actually failing another of Her tests? Or if arguing against accepting refugees and immigrants into our country is a direct infringement upon God’s will, because humans are nothing more than tenants on the land She created for us? Maybe the very idea of us deciding whether or not to allow our fellow humans to occupy the same piece of land as us is a direct affront to God, and it is the right of any man or woman to roam Her land, undeterred.
What if we’re failing Her test of compassion every time we’re offended by the idea of contributing a little more of our wealth to taxes that provide underprivileged people the ability to eat, to be educated, or to receive healthcare?
All of us are aware of the rewards we will receive in exchange for our faith, or the punishment for our lack of. Our consciousness has not yet evolved to a level where we can be capable of understanding our own genuine motivations. Because of this knowledge, it is impossible for us to know if we hold a genuine belief, or if it is subconsciously driven by our desires or fears.
God undoubtedly knows this, therefore, a statement of faith – even if supported by acts of religious tradition – would not be an appropriate way to determine one’s true beliefs.
However, if a person holds a sincere and unquestionable belief in an everlasting life in Heaven, then the flash of a moment spent on Earth would most certainly be completely filled with acts of kindness towards others. There would be no effort spent on selfish pleasures or time-wasting distractions because our time here, although it may feel long, is almost non-existent in the arc of an infinite existence.
Therefore, every time we argue against contributing more taxes that will allow others to have better access to food, shelter, education, or healthcare – we’re admitting that our perception of wealth on Earth is more important than helping others – even though helping others has a direct impact on our admittance to Heaven.
For those who believe, every moment should be an opportunity to make an impression on God, and on our fellow men and women with whom we hope to reunite with in Heaven. The things we worry about today – jobs, money, cleaning the house, watching sports, talking to friends, posting on Facebook, and even caring about family – should be irrelevant, if this life is merely a test of faith. There certainly wouldn’t be time for hating or judging other people because of their lifestyles political affiliations.
And if we spend our time doing anything other than helping others and preparing for our true life with God to begin? Then it’s likely that we don’t truly believe. Or, at least, we aren’t absolutely sure – so we want to make the most of our life now, just in case. Which is a natural thing for any person to believe.
But then, please don’t hide behind religion when making your bigoted statements about homosexuality, immigration, abortion, or anything else. Either admit that your views are your own, or keep it to yourself. Because you’re proving yourself to be a hypocrite.
Fifth Verse, Fifth Chapter
What if Matthew 5:5 is the verse in the Bible which deserves the most attention, it truly will be the Meek that shall inherit the Earth?
What if God looks upon us on judgement day and sees how we’ve enslaved entire populations of people because of nothing more than the amount of melatonin in their skin? And how, even after such unfathomable treatment, we attempt to silence them whenever they dare speak out about these injustices, because we believe it shows disrespect to a piece of cloth that we’ve come to worship?
What if God judges us based on our reluctance to part with any more of our wealth because we believe that those who struggle for food or to be educated or treated for disease simply haven’t worked hard enough, and don’t deserve any of our charity. Or, if She simply judged us because we believe that sharing our wealth with the less fortunate is, in fact, some type of charity.
Is Heaven Too Crowded?
If our souls are destined for one of two severely extreme possibilities – either eternal paradise or everlasting torture – it doesn’t seem beyond the realm of possibility that our fates are decided by more than which theocracy we believe and if we’re sorry for how we’ve behaved.
For one, theocracy is primarily based off of geography, giving someone born in a predominantly-Christian nation (if this is the true religion) a tremendous, and undeserved, advantage over someone in another part of the world, or born to less-religious parents.
Second, simply regretting our treatment of others doesn’t have any impact on those who on the receiving end. There have been countless people who have shed themselves of their religious beliefs because of the suffering they’ve received at the hands of others. It hardly seems just to punish those who have suffered, while rewarding those who repent for administering such pain.
At the very least, believing and repenting would seem to be a fairly low and narrow standard when determining something of such magnitude. Would it not be possible (if not probably) that our entrance into Heaven rely on how we’ve behaved during the time we’ve spent on this planet, as opposed to favoring those who were born into a more favorable situation?
And even if it isn’t true, wouldn’t we all lead a more meaningful and highly-principled life if this was what we believed?