What's on my mind.

30 November 2007

Church, part 3

Warning: Logic and internal consistency may not exist in the following. I'm OK with that.

So on to more complicated issues.

Is there an afterlife? I don't know. I like to think that there is something but it isn't like what, I think, people usually think of. I don't really have any firm beliefs on what heaven is, mostly what it isn't. I don't believe it's like this life only without bad stuff. I don't believe you can earn heaven or wings or stars for your crown by trying for it. God gives us forgiveness and grace, we can't earn it. If you get stars, they are for the little kindnesses that you do without thinking and just to be nice. I don't think anyone is condemned to Hell forever, or if it exists. I've never understood how God could pick some people and not others. I am not personally ready to go to heaven and meet Hitler but I believe he may be there.

Salvation and grace are gifts. I think some times we are not ready to accept them but God still gives them to us. I may officially be Presbyterian but I'm not sure having water sprinkled on you means you are going to heaven. Baptism is a symbol of your, or your parent's, faith and desire to live a good life, but not a get out of hell free pass.

I think we should try to live Christ-like lives. As recorded in the Bible, he was a really good dude. He taught some really good values and LIVED them, too. He was fairly consistent with his story. It all boiled down to the commandment he gave to his followers: Love one another as I have loved you. Not that that is an easy thing to do. Loving and respecting everyone you meet (and don't) for who they are warts and all is HARD. Jesus knew it, too. He knew that we wouldn't be perfect but wants us to try. He also wants us to take the two greatest commandments of the Old Testament (Lev. 19:18 and Deu.6:4-6) and step out of the box.

I think, from my readings, that a lot of the Old Testament rules and regulations were directed to specific people. Like the reason everything was a capital offense is because a semi-nomadic/subsistence farming population can't afford jails. (There was a fairly high standard for applying the death penalty, too. But that's another topic, another post.) Prohibition of pork and seafood makes sense when food preparation was iffy (e.g. several pig parasites can infect humans); separation of meat and dairy, again, makes sense when living in biblical times. They don't make sense now except for religious reasons. Jesus' teachings tend to be more universal - don't judge, everyone is your neighbor, what comes out of your mouth is more important than what you put in it, love. (to name a few) These things apply across time. They also don't lend themselves to legalistic enforcement. At the time Jesus lived the Pharisees went around saying how they followed all the Mosaic laws and, gee, weren't they good Jews. They claimed to follow the letter of the law but didn't follow the spirit of the laws. Jesus was rebelling against that. We all should.

(Almost done, one more post should cover it all.)

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