What's the Big Hurry?
One of the things about Christianity that bears the strongest mark
of human invention is the preoccupation with time. Christians tell us
that we must repent, that at the end of our lives here on earth, there
will be a judgment where we must explain why we chose the paths we did.
For some reason we are to believe that God, who lives forever, can extend
mercy to His poor creatures for only a brief instant in timethe
vaporous span of a human life. It's ironic, but the apostle Peter once
asked Jesus how many times he should be expected to forgive someone. He felt that perhaps seven was a generous number. But Jesus said
that even if his brother offended him seventy times seven times, he should
still forgive him. Now in Sunday School we were always taught that this
did not mean that you should forgive someone exactly 490 times. Rather
it was a metaphor that really meant you should never stop forgiving someone
who asks your forgiveness. So if humans are expected to forgive eachother
indefinitely, certainly God can do at least as much. Yet Christians believe that
God's mercy can't even measure up to what humans are expected to do.
If we are truly eternal beings, and God is an eternal God, then we
have an eternity to get to understand Him, and he has an eternity to teach
us. So what's the big hurry? Why must we figure it all out in the first
few moments of our existence? What's a few more years in eternity? Or
a few billion? And what's the big deal about doing it all in this lifetime?
Our souls are the things that are at stake here, and according to Christians,
souls live on, and death is a mere shedding of the mortal body. I remember
a preacher once saying that Hell was so horrible, that if unbelievers
could just get a glimpse of it, they would all convert immediately. Well,
wouldn't the Gospel message be much more compelling in the afterlife,
where we could actually visit this Hell? One of the main reasons people
don't become Christians is that they simply don't buy it. But in the afterlife,
face to face with Jesus and Satan and Heaven and Hell and all that, the
whole thing becomes a lot more convincing. Why not offer salvation then?
Not allowing people to convert in the afterlife seems an arbitrary
decision, especially since humans are such intelligent creatures,
capable of learning so much, and acting on that knowledge. It just doesn't
make sense that God would create us with such marvelous brains and sensibilities,
yet not let us use them. Killed in a car accident in high school? Too
bad. Out of all the billions of years you will be in existence, the things
you are capable of learning in that time, and all the wisdom and life-changing
insights you can gain, you only get sixteen years to make a go of it.
For the rest of the time, your sophisticated intelligence and capacity
for learning and change will be spent contemplating the sight, smell,
sound and sensation of the flesh sizzling on your bones. Do we really
believe God is like this? If we attribute such action to God, what then
shall we say that the devil does?