Have you ever done something wrong? In your whole life? Something you’re embarrassed about or something that hurt someone in some way. It doesn’t have to be assault or battery, or murder. It could be an unkind word, or gossip, or a flippant remark that hurts feelings. I was watching a TV show called “the Good Place.” The premise is that a certain horrible person mistakenly gets into heaven. The “host” of the place, the architect, explains that you reap certain points for certain behaviors, and if you reach the required number of points, you get into this “Good Place.” The mix up happens because some really good person with exactly the same name and this awful person die about the same time and the really good person goes to “the Other Place.” About this time I’m realizing that this Couldn’t be Heaven because the characters keep revealing their shortfalls. One is still jealous, one is pretending to be Asian when he’s actually Hispanic. One is still so paranoid about making mistakes that he makes no decisions and begins to lie. And of course our awful person is trying her best to be what she thinks people in the “Good Place” are supposed to and she has never practiced it on earth. Horrible things begin to happen that, of course, the horrible person believes is caused by her illegal presence.
The thing is, this is exactly what the world would have you believe when it comes to Heaven and Hell. Bad and Good are relative terms, not black and white. No one is all bad or all good, so some are “badder” than others and some are “gooder.” But is that the true measure? Can you accumulate enough points to get to heaven? Have you seen those laundry detergent commercials. Is this white or is THIS white? If you look at fashion or paint or auto colors, there are all sorts of whites. White, Off White, White Smoke, Snow, Ivory, Old Lace, and Linen are different whites. When seen by themselves they seem to be white, but when held next to a real white, the difference can be seen. So these alternatives to white are still not white. The only way to earn your way to heaven is to be completely sinless. So if you have a teeny tiny, itsy bitsy, microdot of yellow on this white, it is NOT white. If you told a white lie, you’re now grey. If you stretched the truth on the size of the fish you caught, you’re grey. If, in your youth, you punched your brother because he took your toy without asking, you’re grey.
You cannot balance good with bad and weigh the relative merit. I’m less grey than that fellow. Where is the line? It’s at the 1st infraction. You’re either sinless or you’re not. And as they say, “Nobody’s perfect!” or as Paul says in Romans, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Back to the Good Place. It is the last episode of the 1st season and now you have it figured out. They are not in heaven. The torture they experience is the torture they visit on each other and on themselves. It doesn’t have to come from an outside source. It isn’t fire and brimstone, it’s the threat of fire and brimstone. It’s the “what if I can’t measure up” stress that everyone in the show exhibits.
How do you get a Not White shirt to be white then? You wash it. It is only by forgiveness that you lose that spot on your soul. You can’t wash it clean by yourself; the water is dirty, the machine is dirty,and you have one red sock in the laundry.
Now let’s get this straight. We are not offending God. We are willingly and consciously defying God. We are not bothering God; we are disobeying and mocking Him. If your child openly disobeyed you, mocked you, and defied you, wouldn’t you spank his little butt? Wouldn’t you confine him to his room, take away his x-box, or ground him? Of course. What if you said, “Look both ways before crossing the street and hold my hand,” and he replied, “I don’t have to you doofus!” and ran out in front of a bus? The consequences would be death wouldn’t it. But even if he did do that, wouldn’t you throw yourself into the traffic to save him even if it cost you your life? Of course you’d die knowing that he would blame himself for your death for the rest of his wretched little life. Wait. Um… So the laws that were given were to save our lives. We call them the 10 commandments. And we play light and loose with them because we don’t see the “bus” coming at us. That “bus” is eternal death and separation from God.
Of course there are those that say that a loving God would never send anyone to hell, in fact he’d never let anything bad happen to good people (or bad people for that matter.) What they are saying, in effect, is if God was a loving God, there’d be no buses. If God was smart, he wouldn’t have put a tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden, then tell them not to eat the fruit. Therefore, God is neither loving or wise, and therefore he is not omni anything. Why believe in an invisible guy in the sky that has no power or control over his creation? (God is very wise and loving by the way.)
When your children are born, they love you because you are Mom and Dad. Then they turn 5. Then if you enforce a rule, they hate you. Then you get them a bike and they love you. Then they stay out until 2 AM the night before the big math test and you ground them, and they hate you again. What if they didn’t have a choice to love you or hate you? That would make them pets wouldn’t it? Even the most abused dog will accept love from its owner. In order to relish true love, you have to give them the choice to love you or not. Remember that there was a Tree of Life in the Garden too? They had a choice to live forever in the bliss that was the Garden of Eden, or to be like God knowing both good and evil. Even though they were told that eating the fruit of the good and evil tree would cause death, they each decided that it was better to be godlike than live forever. Oh…I would have lost that bet. “Given a Tree of Life and a Tree of Death, they’ll choose the tree of Life every time, wouldn’t they?” Doh! The problem arose in that they didn’t have the wisdom to tell the difference between good and evil. So sometimes, they chose evil. They ran out into the street and stuck their tongues out at God. Here comes the bus.
So instead of blasting them to smithereens with a lightning bolt, God started the ball rolling with a way to save them from the bus. He sent his physical/human self to step in front of the bus and push us out of the way. But this is how humans think: Awwww! he stopped the bus! Wait! Here comes another one! We can catch that one! *smack* Some will accept being saved by God, others won’t. Some will take the white shirt/robe/athletic gear and some will say, “I think I can wear this another day, it’s clean enough…” while the buzzards are dropping from the sky from the fumes.
You do good and you be good because it is a thankful reaction to God’s sacrifice for you. If your brother jumped into the water to save you from drowning, and he drowned instead, wouldn’t you learn to swim? Wouldn’t you want to honor his sacrifice by helping others to swim? It’s the same principle. So NO you cannot earn enough points to get to Heaven. You already have a free pass, but there was a cost to it. One you couldn’t possibly pay yourself. Give glory to the one that sacrificed himself for you, then act like you know the guy!