I’m writing this 24 hours after saying good-bye to my mom. I will be officiating her funeral service and realize in this day of diversity there are many views of what happens to us after death. This morning I was pondering some options and wanted to share my thoughts.
First, it could be possible nothing happens. Life is over, we are buried or cremated and the only thing that continues to exist are memories people have. A very small percentage of the population believe this or actually hope it is true. I will tell you from my perspective right now, that view gives me no comfort or hope at all.
Second, it could be possible we are absorbed into some cosmic “force” losing all sense of personality or self and just become one with the universe. Internally, I have no attraction for this view because every one of us are so unique. I really think an endless life of “Communism” where we are all just one big force of life would be rather bland. When I think of Uncle Bob Scudder, my Mom and Dad, I want to see them not be absorbed into a big blob of life with them.
Third, everyone has the same fate. Everyone goes to “heaven” with God our benevolent giver of life. This view is called Universalism. In some ways this view is attractive. Since all of us have had failings of various degrees it seems kind of fair God would just overlook all of them and let us all in. Again though, internally my sense of justice is violated. It goes against an innate sense of what is fair and equitable. To think the world trade center terrorists or Jeffrey Dahmer or Charles Manson will have the same fate as us doesn’t sit well with me.
Fourth, there are options in eternity and a big set of scales. God as you understand him will put our lives on the scales, good on one side and bad on the other. Whichever way the scales tip will determine your eternal fate. Most who think this believe in some kind of a blissful place and the other place not so good and to be avoided at all costs. Most who think this also think when it is their turn their lives will tip to the good side. My internal angst with this view is what is the standard by which we are judged. I know personally many things I have done that appeared to be good have been done with a selfish motive. So, does motive count in why we did good things. Are we graded on a curve? Does God take the whole of the human race with the very worst at one end and the very best at the other and put the rest of us on the scale and say, “Oh, too bad the cut off point is 51% and you only got a 50%! Almost every world religion, except biblical Christianity believes some version of this view including most main line denominational churches.
Fifth and final for this writing is what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that God is the objective standard by which all humans are measured. Therefore, the Scriptures teach that like an archer out of range of his target with his arrow falling short constantly, we all have missed the mark. When we are put on the scales of good and bad with God as the objective standard the scale tips the same way for every human and it isn’t to the good side.
That is why Jesus came to earth. He said he came to die as a ransom for us. He died to pay for our sin so, whoever by faith believes what he did for them, God declares us right with Him. It is like God takes Jesus’ righteous life and puts it under our name in the ledger when we trust him. God takes all our wrong and puts it in the ledger under Jesus’ name. It is a great transaction. It doesn’t make us better than anyone else. It just means we are playing by the rules as set up by the designer of life who will ultimately judge us. This view believes God is alive and involved and has a place for those who are willing to humble themselves and accept his gift that is free to us but cost Jesus so much.
The biblical view says God is a loving, merciful and grace filled God whose nature is perfectly balanced with justice, anger and even jealousy over us, wanting us to choose Him over all else. It is very clear that when we have our day as my mom just did, the only ticket that gets us through the gates is the one Jesus punched for us.
Since I’ve never been there and back, I will choose to believe the one who came from there and showed us the way and went back himself. The one who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life and NO ONE gets to the Father but by me.” John 14:6.
This morning, knowing mom believed view number five, makes all the difference in me being able to move forward. I grieve but not like someone who doesn’t have this faith. This view satisfies my deepest longings. To know we keep our personalities, just have all the negative stuff stripped away and will live forever with the Lord and people we loved on earth and with tons of others who chose the Lord is so comforting.
This is why biblical Christianity is “evangelical.” The Gospel, Jesus died for our sins and rose to give us new life for those who trust, equals Good News! Too good to not share.
Ponder this with me,