This week’s sermon: Galatians 2:15-21
So much noise goes around about whether Ghandi is going to be in hell or more provocatively; will Hitler be in heaven?(see Ross Douhat, NYT). The question came to me this week; which heaven?
Is it a heaven that is the same as earth only better? No death, no wealth or poverty, no ignorance? Or is it a paradise akin to the early Edenic picture? In that picture we regularly see God showing up asking for an account of the day. If it’s the former, where is God’s place in that construct? Will it be like here on this earthly plain insofar as we don’t see Him but for some of us we can ‘feel’ His presence?
Paul’s Galatian missive points out that being good really isn’t really the ticket for the train to heaven. Or even the point once we get there.And even, for that matter, the basis for being in this life.The basis for all three is a life lived in communion. A communion with humankind, nature and God, as well as harmony within our own heart and being.
Here in Oakmont the speed limit is 25 mph.I can rarely keep my speed down to this limit unless I’m hopelessly trapped behind someone who is creeping along at 18 mph. While following one of these snails, it occurred to me one day that keeping the speed limit is only a general precursor to living in communion. The law only points out when you are breaking the civil code. It might keep things safer, but it is only the starting point for getting along with others. In all the funerals I ever led, I never saw anyone receive a ribbon at their funeral for keeping traffic laws.
The question I will ask this Sunday will be; “If good, moral people get to heaven and see Jesus face to face, will they be satisfied to honor Him as their Lord and King?” If they are not, then why would they want to be a citizen of His Kingdom? If they want to be a citizen of a holy, honorable and peaceful kingdom why wouldn’t they want that now?
Paul’s central crux is that pride is keeping this from happening. A trust in the law means trust in your own prideful moral code. Like me cursing the driver who is going 18 mph, I might be living up to the law but I’ve lived short of the love that I’m to have.
The net on this is that there will only be bad people in heaven. People who have received forgiveness from the King.