Where will you go when you die?
This is the question isn’t it? I mean, this is the singular question I was raised with and if I’m honest I preached on many occasions and in many situations.
Isn’t this what Easter is all about?
Jesus died to pay for our sins so that we can go to heaven instead of hell when we die. So the question then becomes, “if you were to die today, where would you go?”
Now, I have come to see the death and resurrection in a very different light, but I still think that what happens after you die really matters. What we think about when we think about the life after death will shape us in powerful ways. So, those who are religious and think that the majority of people will spend the rest of their lives in eternal conscious torment, have a very compelling message – it’s just that it is actually not really good news…at least not to the majority of people.
As I mentioned, what happens when you die is important, but if we are honest, we really know little about it. This is a topic for another time (maybe next week). I just wanted to be clear that this is important, but also that much of it is very unclear.
That being said, to boil the biblical narrative down to this one simple question is to oversimplify everything and loose so much in the process. In fact, when we focus on this question alone we miss the most important parts of the story!
In Genesis we get a poem where God creates and calls it good. Animals, plants, the solar system, sex, water, dirt, – it’s all good – including humanity.
In Revelation we get a vision of a city coming down and God creating things new. This is about reconciliation and not about destruction.
What about the resurrection of Jesus?
Dallas Willard writes, “Salvation then becomes not something about the afterlife, but about the life that comes into us now – enters us by the Spirit of God from above. Above is right here. It is resurrection life. That is salvation.”
Rob Bell writes, “Resurrection affirms the goodness of creation, reminding us of our sacred responsibility to care for it well.”
Even Jesus prayed for God’s hope and dream (kingdom) to come to earth – I think we should see the life of Jesus as a movement of heaven to earth not the other way around.
So, when we celebrate and remember the resurrection of Jesus we are reminded that life is breaking in right here, right now. This world matters. Your life, your health, your job, your friendships, your family…all of it is good…all of it is sacred…all of it matters!
I’m thankful to be part of a church that holds as one of its core values that following Jesus is just as much about this world as the next.
This world matters!
But also within that statement is not the denial that the age to come doesn’t matter. Following Jesus is about this life AND the life to come, but when we understand that God is for the flourishing of this life, then why would we not believe God would want that to continue into the next life?