Question Fifteen

Isn't it exciting to know that in the end the stakes could be very high?

How is it that in popular thinking we always take a step up in the next life?  A curious assumption that we’ll come back as an Olympian, a film star, or the doctor who finds a cure for everything.  How come it’s never an option that I’ll come back as a retriever or a rodent?  But I’m not going to think about it.  At least not right now.  I’m young and vigorous.  And maybe even immortal on my own terms.

And then there’s the whole problem that in the end the natural world might view its own eschatology as Christocentric.  And where does that leave us?  But we know that couldn’t be true if we don’t want it to be true.  This talk of Yeshua being the Logos and the Lion, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  And the Cross, the crux of a spinning universe.

But even more interesting at the moment, what about our security of ambivalence in such things?  Why does a man not press into it?  Why doesn’t he sell everything he has to investigate last things for the world and last things for himself?  What’s he waiting for, his ninety-ninth birthday or a terminal illness?  And even then will he probe to discern if there is a God who might be saying something to him?  On a scale of one to ten, how hard can a man’s heart become in these things?  Or is it purely a matter of the mind, coming to terms with the expiration date on his animal life, as he attempts to suppress the musings of his spirit and his hopes for more?  How exactly did he gain this permission to establish his own ultimate outcome, to say nothing of his casual anticipation of it?

Do you listen to the conversations around you, and to the words that come out of your own mouth?  Have you noticed how often our focus is “he” or “she” or “they”, followed by our litany of offenses borne?  Or how much of conversation is dominated by the lifeless, the meaningless, and the pointless?  Extremely white bread in a world starving for whole grain content.  We rush quietly to the end of our lives, putting up little fuss that no one has challenged our beige convictions and our spiritual inertia.  What if it turns out that our choices in this life actually matter in a next?

And if so, what am I to make of the hard sayings of Jesus?  This stuff about the end of all things.  I mean, I liked Jesus a lot when he was talking about loving everybody.  Not judging other people or throwing the first rock, doing unto others as I would have them do to me.  Good, acceptable, inclusive teachings about playing well with others and helping the less fortunate.  What’s not to like about an agreeable Jesus?  Can we get him on our corporate payroll and our softball team?

If only he had kept his big mouth shut on hell.  And on the divisiveness of his own person.  Why would Jesus even ask, “Who do you say that I am?”, as though he imagines himself to be the focus of his teaching rather than those virtues to which he would have us aspire?  Enough of that.  This talk of sorting people out in the end.  Wide roads versus narrow roads with not many travelers.  Sheep and goats.  That he himself would be the judge of all people, holding the keys of Death and of Hades.  The one whose return coincides with the end and the beginning of all things.  And depending on one’s trajectory in life, is it simply our greatest hope that what he has promised will never come to pass?