I feel like I’ve lain enough of a foundation now that I can begin to draw some conclusions. If I’m wrong in this, let me know. I like a challenging comment as much as a supportive one (although I do like a little bit of cheer-leading from time to time, y’know, ‘cuz of the ego).
I’ve got some very contradictory ideas already stated, and Nicki’s called me on them (these particular ones I’m talking about, I mean), and I recognize the contradiction and that’s part of the reason I’m working on this blog. Getting everything spread out and written down makes it a lot easier for me to chase down those conflicting ideas.
Anyway, these particular ideas I’m talking about are the use of magic to construct worlds, the responsibility of Man to live up to his potential, and the inherent wickedness of trying to out-create God.
There’s another question which isn’t immediately related to those things, but which I’ll tie in. That’s this: why would a Christian, believing that Heaven is the ultimate goal of Man, believe that God would create earthly life? What’s the point of life, other than an opportunity for Man to fail, and get stuck in Hell?
It can’t be “to spread the word of God” because if God just skipped the Life phase, everyone would start out in his presence and not NEED to hear the word. It can’t be “to prove he’s worthy of living in Heaven” because we’re told from the start that we’re NOT.
I think it’s just this: Life is a chance for us to get it out of our system.
When transient beings make decisions, those decisions are transient. When infinite beings make decisions, those decisions are infinite. Not in duration, necessarily, but in significance.
We look at the fallen angels as our example. They lived in Paradise (real, whole, base Heaven), and decided that they wanted to rule over dominions of their own, and so they tore themselves away from True Reality to a place where they could make things of their own. And, to all appearances, they don’t get to go back. That’s the infinite decision there.
God created Man, then, with earthly bodies, so that we could test and retest and retest our ability to make a better world. You could even pretend he was being open-minded about it, figuring if we COULD make a better world than his, we deserved the right to it. There will be a lot of people who feel like they have, and they’ll commit their eternal selves to a temporally constructed world. Who knows — maybe they’ll get to have that world for their eternity. It’ll be Hell, in that it’ll be an eternity without God, but it might still be just what they built.
Life is an opportunity to discover, once and for all, that we can’t do it ourselves. To prepare us to accept God’s Heaven forever, once we actually see it. I think everyone is welcome in Heaven (I think the Bible says so clearly), but not everyone is prepared to accept it.
It is possible to live a life, from the beginning, entirely devoted to eternal Paradise. Jesus did. It is…extremely unlikely. It IS possible to learn your lesson early, and every time reality tempts you away from total dependence on God, to return there quickly, as you learn what’s going wrong. Look at Abraham and King David, and even King Solomon. Look what they were given, in this world, for their devotion to and dependence on God’s eternity. And look at Ecclesiastes for a very perfect description of what Life is all about. Life is about learning that everything outside of True Reality is meaningless. Sure it’s fun, sure it’s invigorating, but it’s flash and bang and gone — meaningless.
Most people, of course, don’t even manage the King David route. Some start out that way, but somehow end up tempted too much by their own pride (like Solomon). Some start out brash and bold and self-dependent, but find their way to Paradise-living late in life. Most of us, I think, come and go. Sometimes walking in the light, sometimes walking out of it, and always, always wishing we were walking in the light. Know what I mean?
I think at the end, we’ll all have access to Heaven. I don’t think, at the end, we’ll all have learned enough of our lesson to accept it, even then. Jesus will have redeemed many, many, by his example and his message and his death. People who wouldn’t have believed, or wouldn’t have believed strongly enough, without him, will be able to make the decision to be saved, because of him. Even so…when that time comes, there will be those who will have learned enough to contain their pride, and those who won’t.
Maybe we’ll all get accepted in at the moment of our death, and those who can’t take it will dwindle away over time. Maybe God, infinitely knowing, will cull out those failures before they come in (it matches more closely with the Bible telling, anyway). More likely, I think, we’ll make our own decision, as soon as we become infinite. As soon as we can see clearly, no longer limited by our temporal understanding, we will make an infinite decision. That’s not unfair — it’s the nature of the infinite. And in that moment we’ll decide whether we have learned to be dependent on God, living in Heaven for the rest of…ever, or if we’ve decided that it were better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.
So…live your life. That is God’s expectation of Man. Not to throw it away, constantly hoping for the next, but to spend our finite time learning all the lessons of trial and error necessary to prepare us to make good decisions, when the time comes. Or, rather, when time goes away.
What then? Shall we go on sinning that grace may increase? By no means. Living your life fully doesn’t mean crippling yourself by indulging in every vice. It DOES mean understanding vices, and what makes them vices. It DOES mean trying things on your own…and learning that it’s just not as good. Life is a playground with sand under the jungle gym. Yeah, we’ll fall from time to time. It’s expected. It’s also protected. It hurts…temporally. It hurts, and then the hurt goes away, and we get to try again.
You don’t really get that in infinity.
So…yes, you’ll fail. Your job, your responsibility, is to learn from that failure, not to surrender to it.
Go, learn, grow. Live and live and live. Death is part of it, too. If there were no death, Life would just be a prison of meaninglessness. As it is, Death is our opportunity to step into the real. Will you?