Blog 1641 – 03.19.2020
Life has a way of sometimes changing the mix to get us to consider reevaluating our priorities. Who had a clue even a few months ago that social and public life would undergo such radical changes? All the bars and restaurants are closed and all sports competitions are on indefinite hold – Wow! What are we supposed to do now? When in doubt, go deeper, for there are unexplored treasures there.
There are, I think, three groups of people – people who do not believe in heaven or hell, those who believe in hell with no heaven, and those who believe in heaven with no hell (I consider myself part of the last group.” Jesus knew that the two biggest religious groups in the Judaism of his day, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, did not believe in either, or believed in both respectively. Being questioned by both groups at the same time once he said, “You search the scriptures to find God but they speak of me.” And went on to say, “The kingdom of heaven is within you.”
I am not so certain of my “opinions” that I rule out entirely those of others. Even most of those I vehemently oppose today I still remember holding once as vehemently myself as my core “beliefs.” Most of what we think we believe is really only opinion. Opinions are so much more easily changed than beliefs and yet even beliefs are only thoughts that we hold onto, like many opinions, often way past their expiration date. But what are we to make of this, the kingdom of heaven is within you thing?
I have given it quite a lot of thought especially since I severed ties to the formal religion I was raised in and spent the first half of my life, if I make it to ninety, trying to defend and add to its followers. I was taught as many of us were, in lullabies, Sunday School lessons, and sermons that heaven was a place somewhere over the rainbow in the sweet by and by. We comfort ourselves that our dear departed loved ones are not lost but that they are waiting for us there. And some even take some kind of sick solace in believing that their supposed enemies are secured and suffering in that other place. The preachers, that I grew up listening to, spoke a lot about heaven and probably gave equal time to hell, most of them anyway. I learned in Bible College that the word that Jesus used for hell in the New Testament was the word for a trash dump outside the city of Jerusalem where they burned the trash to dispose of it. That a loving God could have even entertained the thought of creating a place, an eternal burning lake of fire, for placing His/Her wayward and disobedient children in is to me incredible, unbelievable. Why, even the wise child knows better when it says, “God don’t make junk, trash.” It is we humans who are so quick to label things and people as junk and trash and we who invented ways and places for sequestering and disposing of things and people so named.
The Bible story about creation and the Garden of Eden has man naming everything but even in the story God never told him to do that. Naming things is a somewhat feeble attempt to say we know them, understand them completely, and really have a handle on things. Some even refer to a name as a handle. Trust me we do not know everything or anyone really, not even ourselves, and the only true handle we have or have ever had is holding onto the Unseen Hand that has guided us through countless adventures and will this one as well. My advice, and you did not ask for it, but here it is, for such a challenging time as this is:
The Beach Boys really nailed that one or as an ole Jewish expression says well, “From God’s lips to your ears.” Don’t worry, Baby, everything will turn out all right. Somethings even the Bible gets spot on. One of my favorite verses in the New Testament says, “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” And no matter what this narrow group or that believing themselves to be the “called” or “chosen” says, we, all God’s children, hear the voice, and see his purpose in many ways, for his spirit and the kingdom of heaven, dwell within us all.
A person very dear to me said instead of all this prophesying about end times we should be singing Kumba Ya. I don’t know about that but the above song and this one too seem appropriate for this and any time to me.
Don’t Worry Be Happy.
Your friend and fellow traveler,