Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's the Afterlife, Stupid

The quote that got me going was the following: "You'll die and go to hell if you don't accept Christ" is good enough for me, but I know others need more convincing." My interpretation for that statement is that the writer's sole purpose for being a Christian is the prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack church box. And thus began my pondering about exactly how much of a factor heaven should play in our walk with God.

In the Old Testament Heaven is mentioned as God's dwelling place several times, but - get this - exactly one time as the future home for the righteous, in II Kings 2:11 when Elijah is called up into heaven. Before that, there's really no indication in the Bible that that's where we're going, and until the New Testament it's not mentioned as such again (except vaguely in connection with the Hebrew concept of Sheol). Without stretching, that's it gang. Hey, naturally, if I'm mistaken about this please clarify, but I think i'm onto something here.

Now again, let me make this VERY clear, I believe that there is an afterlife, and that Heaven is the dwelling of place of God, and that those whose sins are washed by the blood of Jesus at the cross are admitted there. I'm NOT making these statements to question the existence of heaven.

I am, however, very interested in the faith of the Jews who loved God and (for the most part) did their best to obey Him without obsessing about the afterlife. In fact, they seemed a whole lot more interested in what was going on here on the ground. Huh.

So what was their motivation? Was it fear? Guilt? Manipulation? I think nothing so cynical as these, which might cause some to label me as naive, but hey- those same people would probably question the existence of God and heaven anyway, and they'd be wrong, so what care I?

No, I believe they walked the walk because they adored God.

They adored God. They were impressed with His majesty and His creation, and His promises and fulfilment of promises. They were awed by a God that created the world, and the sun and moon and stars, and who took a personal interest in them. They worshipped him like the God that He is.

It wasn't about heaven- it was about God.

I think heaven will be a great place, but the thing that makes it great is that it's where God lives.
So, I wonder, what if we explore that kind of faith? And so my question is this for tonight:
If God took heaven back off the table, would you still love Him?

Ah, but that requires that we define love. And that, I believe, will bring us closer to the core of what God has in mind for us.

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