Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Huge Misunderstanding by Alex's Friends

         Alex died last week and his friends think he has gone to some outer-space Paradise, or some wonderful spiritual Heaven.  They know he died in that shooting; they went to the graveside service and sang, “Kumbaya.”  They picture him as smoking, sitting around with a new gang of friends, catching up on the exciting life-stories of how they did life on earth to suit themselves.
Now, Alex is in a new lifetime of Heaven, or is it Hell?  Never mind; as long as he’s in good company Alex will be happy.  And being happy is the real goal, isn’t it? 
What is really happening?  Where is Alex now?  
The time for you and me to ask serious questions is now.  The time to take a new look at our lifestyle is now.  Dying is so permanent.  Anyone can conclude that our life here on earth has some sort of meaning, some sort of lesson to be learned, some sort of investment for the future. But not everyone agrees on that future.  
        See if I can show you a logical answer. 

Is there a jolly, happy place called Hell where red-frocked little demons wait on the tables?  Is Satan in charge of this place? 
Or, is there an actual Judgment where we stand alone, before the actual Creator of the Cosmos and see some kind of replay of all of our mistakes, all of our bad behavior, all the times we ridiculed Him?  Then is there actual punishment for “sin”? 
It seems bold and adventuresome and fascinating to explore and experience life to the full.  Success in sports, for example, demonstrates what hard work and preparation and competition can do for a dedicated person.  Is life just work, and nothing afterwards?
Can every action be permitted?  Can every word anyone utters out loud be called “acceptable”?  In other words, is there sin or not?  Is there actual evil in the world? 
Settle the issue for yourself, and do it soon.   
If being bad is not good, then something has to be done.  This is the fact behind the notion of paying some penalty to make a person “good.” 
Compare the holy books and the revered teachers of mankind.  Is there any religion that has a historical person like Jesus? His life was exemplary, He preached all around the nation of Israel, and four of the main eye-witnesses wrote down things he said and things he did.  He then claimed he would die for the sins of mankind.
        Has any other outstanding man or woman claimed to be God and then suffered and died because they loved mankind and wanted to atone for our sins?  
       Has any other one been proven to be dead and sealed in a guarded tomb, then proven to be alive three days later, seen by 500 people? 
Some other historical religions have had the notion of spinning a prayer wheel, or reciting words over and over, or emptying one’s mind of thoughts to allow a peaceful nothingness to calm the weary soul.  People have prayed to statues, stones, trees, etc. 
Jump back to the historical look at Jesus.  He claimed there was sin, and sin was bad to do, and that God would pardon the sins of any person who confessed his or her sins  and who asked for spiritual help in turning to the right way of living.
There is peace for the person who owns up to his Creator that he’s never going to reach perfection, that he needs the forgiveness that Jesus spoke of, that he does not want to face a judgment after death.
So where is Alex?  No one here knows if, in his moments of dying, Alex might have silently but fervently called out to Jesus.  If he was sorry for his sins and asked to receive Jesus, then Alex was forgiven and “saved.”  
Thankfully, Alex’s family has some Christian neighbors and friends who are praying for them. It’s too late to pray for Alex; his destination was settled.  But we can know our destination now. 
Here’s a challenge for anyone with curiosity and honesty.  Read just one of the first four books of the New Testament. Matthew is 31 pages long; Mark - 20 pages; Luke - 33 pages; John - 24 pages. Pick one to read and see what it says.  
A huge misunderstanding would be for you or anyone else to ignore Jesus and to invent their own lifestyle and beliefs about God.  Maybe you have known someone who acted like they had the only true religion, but you felt uneasy, troubled around them.
For you and me it’s too easy just to turn away from Alex’s friends.  Maybe we do think about the predicament they’re in, but don’t want to get involved with trying to say something.  Maybe we realize that their lingo is not the same as ours at church.  They don’t know the meaning of such old-fashioned words like “redemption,” “salvation,” and “pardon.”  Maybe we’d make matters worse somehow.  Time to pray! 
Seeker?  Doubter?  Learner?  It does not make sense to avoid the questions.  A silly answer makes it worse.  You know someone like Alex, don’t you?  Ask yourself, “What would Alex do?” He’d want you to be secure in eternity, secure in God’s forgiveness and love.                                                                  * * *

by Elaine Hardt ©2012