Even when no one is listening…


{An honest flow of thoughts concerning recent remarks I’ve heard regarding perspectives on the possibility of an After Life.}

 I am a firm believer in consequences both negative and positive for actions. While consequences may not be immediate according to our perception of time they DO occur eventually. Many religions share this same view, however, most take it a step further by asserting the existence of an After Life Judgement of a person’s actions during their earthly lifetime. A higher power weighs a person’s actions and punishes/rewards accordingly. This means deeds are forced into a black and white way of thinking. There is on room for grey area. Which results in legalistic ways of living.

Evangelical Christianity teaches that a person is not necessarily judged according to their actions but rather their belief system. Most state that mankind is already doomed regardless of their choices concerning morality; and that only belief in in the God-Man Jesus Christ will redeem mankind from the already established punishment.

So seemingly, if you believe in Jesus you can STILL behave anyway you want without eternal consequence. Sure, your social life might be in shambles due to your negative actions but you’re going to heaven…so who the hell cares what kind of person you are?  Yet, I hear many Christians claim that there must be an After Life with judgement otherwise human life has no value. Life becomes mean becomes meaningless if you can do whatever you want.

My question is – WHAT DO YOU PEOPLE ACTUALLY BELIEVE?

You really can’t have it both ways. No matter how you try to spin it. The truth is the Holy Books of religion are either far too ambiguous concerning the concepts of Heaven & Hell OR make contradictory statements. Just for example, check this excerpt from an informative blog  “The Atheist Friendly Christian” :

In the New Testament, I have found the word for “hell” used about 12 times, almost always by Jesus. I didn’t count when different writers wrote about the same instance hell was being used so you may count more, if you count every instance that it is repeated by different writers. The greek word for “hell” that gets translated into English is “Gehenna.” Gehenna was an actual valley just south of Jerusalem. It was literally, the city dump. Since it was the dump, there was always a fire going, to burn the trash. Wild animals would fight for leftover scraps of anything they could get. The poor people would often be there, scavenging for anything they could find that someone may have thrown out, that could be useful to them. Of course the poor are not happy and if you are digging through the dump, you are probably crying. You are most definitely, not living your best days. So you get a visual of a place where the fire never goes out and there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. The people listening to Jesus would have known exactly what He was talking about. James used “Gehenna” once when talking about the power of the tongue but all other mentions of Gehenna were from Jesus. 
So, let’s go over the times Jesus uses the word Gehenna. In Matthew 5:29 He says “It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” In Mathew 10 and Luke 12 he says “28 do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” In Mathew 23 he says 15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” In Matthew 18 and Mark 9 he says 9 “And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.”

And that’s it. Those are all the mentions of hell from Jesus. There are two other words that are sometimes used for hell. Tartarus and Hades. In 2 Peter chapter 2, Peter refers to the underworld. It was borrowed from Greek myth and was a place where the demigods were judged. Hades is basically the Greek version of Sheol (the Hebrew word for hell). Hades is used in Revelation 1, 6, and 20 and in Acts 2. This by the way is a quote from Psalm 16. Jesus uses Hades in Matthew 11 and Luke 10. He says “You will go down to Hades.” In Matthew 16 He says “The gates of Hades will not overcome it.” He also uses it in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. 

And that concludes all mentions or likenesses of the word hell in the New Testament. Anything people have ever said about hell, they got from those few, obscure verses. For the most part, the ideas we get from hell are held over from primitive, mythic religions that used fear and punishment to control people. But obviously, we have evolved from all of those outdated beliefs, right?”

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So why does this all matter? To me personally, this is information that should not be ignored by Christians. As a Christian, I was taught that heaven and hell were real places for eternal punishment/reward. As a Christian, I watched the disconnect between what the church taught and did. Jesus became a get out of Hell free card. Good deeds were simply underlining selfish acts; either through a pay-back-Jesus-Mentality OR the My-Mansion-Will-Be-Pimping-Motivation.

This is what truly devalues human life.

And this sort of eternally motivated mentality is dangerous.

Think about it.

If the After Life is where it’s at then why even bother with life on earth? The hunger for tomorrow continually trumps the contentment in today. The beauty of the here and now loses importance. Essentially life is a huge joke.

But, what if we lived our lives without the certainty of an After Life?

Would life lose meaning?

I think not.

In fact, I believe we would gain value as individuals; and more importantly as a community.

The absence of eternal judgement does not guarantee the absence of accountability. As stated earlier, actions have consequences. All of life is cause and effect. There’s no escaping it. However, if we can get past our selfish motivations based in the hope of heaven and fear of hell then the possibility of selfless love becomes reality.

Slightly Over Dramatic Girly Optimist

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Comments on: "Heaven & Hell – Thoughts on the After Life" (2)

  1. Fantastic. For real, if any Christian were to say “That is not true,” I would have to say nobody likes a teacher’s pet. Including your teacher, Jesus.

  2. By teacher’s pet I mean one is only good for the show.

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