Tag Archives: The Afterlife

I Made Up A Conversation!

“Jesus saved us from our sins.” Okay… so what does that actually mean? What is sin?

It’s basically two things: rebellion against God, and by extension, death.

How does one rebel against God?

Basically, “in the beginning,” however you want to interpret that, humans were told to obey and trust God… we didn’t do that. Thus, evil entered the world and was passed down through the generations. Later, Jesus tells us that the most important thing for us to do is to love our God and to love our neighbors (friends, family, etc, as well as our fellow humans in general). We’re generally pretty good at loving our chums, but peeps tend to forget about the first part.

Why do the actions of some people a wicked long time ago affect us now? How is that possibly fair?

It’s more like a genetic defect than a crime we inherited the guilt from. It’s not your fault per se. It’s just a part of you. It’s really your choices and actions as a result of the inherent evil within you that matter.

Who or what defines “good” or “evil?” Some things that are good for, or help some people hurt other people, so isn’t it all relative?

If morality is relative, one has to assert that nothing is good or evil. Therefore, things like murder should have no repercussions other than perhaps they would be seen as distasteful. Therefore, morality cannot be relative. If it is not relative, it has to be defined by someone or something. Only someone or something that could understand the concept of morality could define it. Therefore, someone intelligent must define it. Furthermore, absolute morality must be defined by someone who could understand how a small action in Boston could affect someone in Afghanistan. Only God can see the whole of humanity through all of time. Thus, God defines morality.

Can you prove God exists?

Not without using some personal experience (my own and that of a lot of others).

Okay, fine. Assuming God exists and sin is a thing, why did we need Jesus to “save” us, and what does that mean?

This gets a little complicated. We don’t just have evil in us. We think evil things and do evil things, even if they’re small and we don’t mean to. Jesus is God in human form. He died in our place so that we would be forgiven. He taught us how to be good in the eyes of God so that we wouldn’t do evil things. We have to believe in him and follow his example because he is God, and is, therefore, the ultimate good.

What happens if you don’t believe?

I think it depends from person to person. I can say that I’m much happier knowing Jesus than I was when I didn’t know him, and faith matters in this life. What happens when you die? I have only a very vague idea, and I can’t really say. All I know is that God judges everyone. How he does that, I don’t know. I do know that Jesus died to save everyone, and I figure we at least owe him our faith.

Humans! Send me more questions and I will attempt to answer them!

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

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Do Me A Favor

When I was in high school I was a deist. I believed in some sort of divine entity, but didn’t think he had a whole lot to do with humanity any more. There were a few reasons for this. The first was that I couldn’t understand why, if God supposedly loved humanity, he would allow so much pain and suffering. The second was that I was looking for a miracle; I was looking for the pillar of flames, and I wasn’t seeing the smaller miracles that happen all the time. The third was that I had been taught God’s wrath without being taught God’s love, and even though I prayed occasionally, I had no idea that one could have a personal relationship with him. The fourth reason was that, put simply, I was too scared to be an atheist.

In my high school, on the coolness scale, spirituality worked something like this: atheism was cool, agnosticism was weak, and religion; particularly Christianity was boring or a joke at best, and at worst, insensitive and exclusive. The fact of the matter was, I grew up Catholic. I wanted to be a rebel, so my deism might have also been a part of that. I was too scared to be an atheist, and the picture I had in my head of what God was like was too clear for me to be an agnostic. So I was a deist, even though I didn’t have a word for it at the time.

One of my close friends in middle school was an atheist, and one of my best friends now is an atheist. Honestly, I think that must take a lot of courage. The idea of dying without a God or an afterlife doesn’t scare me. In fact, death doesn’t scare me at all. If there were no afterlife, one would just go to sleep, and that would be that. If there is an afterlife, it’s just an added bonus. No, what scares me is the idea of living without a God. I know what it’s like. I’ve done it, and at least in my experience, it was awful. I was lonely and scared, and I felt very small all the time. True, these feelings, in part, just come with being a teenager, but they also come, in part, just with being human. Sometimes I still do feel small and helpless, but I also know that the most powerful being in the universe is looking out for me, and it’s okay that I’m small. I don’t have to completely fend for myself all the time.

It must be sort of like how my bird thinks about me. Without me taking care of him, he probably wouldn’t last very long, but he knows I love him, and if he wants something, a lot of the time I’ll give it to him. I’m nice to him, and we love each other. On the flip side, I don’t need him to survive, but I bought him because I wanted someone who would love me and who would be excited to see me in the morning. He is a pain in the neck, and sometimes I have to give him a time-out, but then I let him out and we make friends, and he gets to be my little co-pilot when I’m beating my dad at video games.

Quite frankly, I don’t know how I would get through the day sometimes without knowing that God is taking care of me. Does that mean that every single thing I do is going to work out perfectly? No, of course not. This is not a perfect world. What it means is that I’m not alone in my experiences. It means that, while I don’t have a set, definite road, I have a destination, and God knows how to get me there. That destination might be in this life or the next, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I’m living, and I’m working, and I’m playing, and I’m trying to make this world a little more like what God intended for it.

I get that a lot of this doesn’t make sense if you don’t believe in God in the first place. I get that, for various reasons, people are angry with God. I can’t tell you what to think, but I can tell you that it’s okay to be angry with God, and it’s okay not to understand him. Just do me a favor and talk to him. Being mad at God forever or refusing to believe forever is like being angry at, or ignoring a friend forever. Just do me a favor and talk to him.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Making Sense Of Things

It took me a very long time to understand how one is supposed to love and fear God, when actually, it’s not all that complicated. There are a lot of passages in the Bible where, in the same sentence, the speaker will say one ought to fear the Lord and, oh by the way, he loves you. On the surface that sounds contradictory, but what I think it means is that God is exceptionally powerful, and his power, understandably, should be feared and respected. There are a lot of verses that instruct the reader not to be afraid of dangers in the world. We are loved by the most powerful being in the universe.

Before I continue, I want to address some objections. The ones I can think of off the top of my head are as follows:

1) If God loves us (all of humanity), then why is there so much suffering in the world? If God is so powerful, why doesn’t he just fix everything?

2) If God truly loves everyone, then why does the Bible, as well as many followers of the Christian faith say that a large portion of the world’s population is going to Hell where they will be tortured for eternity?

These are two questions I encounter a lot, and they are questions that have bothered me for a long time. I don’t think I will ever find answers that will completely satisfy me, let alone anyone else, but I wanted to share the conclusions I have come to over the past several years.

1) God has a plan. It’s a good plan, and God intends to redeem humanity: to make the world a better place where there will be no more suffering. For whatever reason, it’s taking a long time, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. It just means that it has to take this long.

2) The fact of the matter is, I know close to nothing about the afterlife. I am certainly not an authority on the issue. I have come to a couple disjointed conclusions, based on research and personal experience, which are as follows:

I: No one is predestined for Heaven or Hell. I should preface this by saying that my understanding of Heaven is being in the full presence of God, while Hell is complete separation. In God’s presence is love and joy and peace, while outside of it is some sort of emptiness and danger. I believe that, in this life, we are stuck somewhere in the middle. That being said, It’s a choice where we end up.

II: Jesus died and rose from the dead so that all of humanity could be redeemed. God doesn’t want anyone to be left outside. Historical and linguistic evidence suggests that while some might go to Hell, it won’t be forever. When the Kingdom comes, even the worst, most immoral people who rejected God their entire lives will be returned to him. In fact, there is reason to believe that Hell is a place of reformation. This is evidenced by the development of the idea of Purgatory.

III: It isn’t the duty of any Christian to condemn people. It’s our duty to teach love and salvation. For one thing, it’s more effective, and for another, it’s closer to the Truth.

Another objection I can think of is: If salvation is universal, then why bother being Christian?

Salvation isn’t about booking a room in eternity. It’s about making the world a better place. Most of what Jesus told people to do was relevant to here and now. It was about taking care of the poor, making peace among enemies, and respecting people because they are worth a lot to God. It’s a way of life: not strictly an escape from death.

I just wanted to get this out there.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

The Things We Hear And See In Dreams

In the past 3 years or so I have had 3 very important dreams.

The first was in my Freshman year of college. That year I had joined a small group (which has since disbanded), to pray and study the Bible together. One night we read a passage where Jesus says “Don’t be afraid. Follow me.” That very same night after I went to bed I had a dream where I was in the dark and I couldn’t see anything. I wasn’t afraid, but I was lost, and I was trying to find my way out– wherever “out” was. At one point, even though it was pitched black, I saw a faint silhouette appear in front of me. In a man’s voice, the silhouette said, “Don’t be afraid. Follow me, and I’ll lead you out.” I followed him, and eventually we saw a light in the distance. The man then said something along the lines of, “Follow me, and be a bridge for other people to come.”

The second dream happened right around the time my grandfather passed away in November. I’ve already mentioned this in an earlier post, but I’ll go into some more detail here. I should preface this by mentioning that I dream about the same weird city a lot, and something is always going wrong there. I’m always in some sort of peril. Well, this time I was in a suburb of that city. At first I was just playing some sort of game where I had to run around and find things, but then I began to feel feverish and I knew that I was actually looking for something very important, and if I didn’t find it, something very bad would happen. Well, I was running out of time, so I decided to run into the all-night subway station. When I reached the bottom of the stairs that led to the platform, I fell down. A moment later there was a man standing over me. He was young, and very well dressed; in fact, he looked like anyone you might encounter on the street, but I was absolutely terrified of him. He picked me up, and I tried to escape at first, but then realized it was pointless, so I walked along with him up some stairs and into a strange, dingy hallway. Up ahead we saw an open door and heard what sounded like a fight. When we reached the door, we saw that two young men were beating up a girl who looked to be about my age. The young man who was escorting me asked, “Would you like me to spare her life?” I said “Yes, of course.” The young man took a step forward, and suddenly the other two men were gone. He told the other girl to head back to the train station where she would find help. Then I realized something. I looked at my escort right in the face and said, “You’re Death, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” he said.
“And you’re not awful.”
“No, I’m glad you don’t think so.”
“And you’re taking me away.”
“Yes, dear.”
“But… you’re bringing me to God, right?”
“Yes.”
That was when I woke up.

The third dream I had was just a week or two ago. Over winter break I read a book called 90 Minutes in Heaven, which was about a pastor who was in a terrible car accident, and actually died for 90 minutes. The EMT’s said that his heart had stopped. While he was out like that, he saw a piece of heaven and heard wonderful music. Miraculously, another pastor came upon the scene of the crash, climbed into the back of the wrecked car and began praying for him and somehow, his heart started beating again. After I read this book I was jealous. I’ll admit it. I wanted to see a piece of Heaven too. I prayed to God and said, “God, I’d really like to see or at least hear something like that, but if this story is going to be all I get for now, please just help me let that be enough.” A while after that (last week, maybe), I had a dream. Once again I was in complete darkness, except this time I was laying down. I couldn’t see anything, but I could hear the most beautiful music ever, and somehow I knew that I was hearing angels. Then the music changed to earthly worship songs, then it changed again to secular love songs, and as this was happening, it began to get lighter, and then I woke up.

I have vivid dreams just about every night. I don’t always remember what happens in them, but I know I have them. Most of them are just insane and don’t make any sense, but sometimes I get these little gifts while I’m asleep and they make me feel awesome for days, if not years on end. I’ve recently decided that everything is awesome; freaking awesome! Yes, bad things happen, but 1) God doesn’t make bad things happen, and 2) it could always be worse. Furthermore, there is nothing that is broken that can’t be fixed, and if we can’t fix it, God can and he will.

I had a thought at first, that maybe these dreams were just coincidence, since many of my dreams have to do with things I’ve recently seen or read or done, but I’ve decided that I no longer believe in coincidence. everything happens for a reason, even if that reason is simply to start something else. We can take things as random, or we can take them as inspiration. I prefer the latter.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!