Quite a few times over the years as I’ve been involved in seeking things spiritual in nature, questions of eternal reward, salvation, heaven and hell have come forward.
Some statements I’ve heard quite often are:
“We belong to the church of XXXX, so we will be going to heaven”
“We are of the XXXX faith, so we are God’s chosen people”
“They are XXXX, so they are doomed to eternal punishment”
“The only people that will get salvation are the ones who believe or say XXXX”
Have you ever heard words like this? Have you ever found yourself saying them?
This is not just a world religion thing. This is a Christian denominational thing. One group who thinks they have a stranglehold on God, and all others are wrong.
It’s clear in Matthew Chapter Whatever, and Ephesians Verse Whatever and then look at half a verse in Leviticus. It’s clear? Right?
I’m not going to tell you that every Christian denomination is right or that God sees all people on earth equally. I’m not going to tell you that because I’m not God.
I don’t know.
I can try and try and try to figure it out, but in the end, God knows, and I don’t.
I believe God loves all people and is merciful.
And it’s not about being fair or just.
If it were about justice, no one deserves the eternal paradise after-life that is part of nearly every religion on the planet. No one deserves that.
If it were about justice, we may all deserve a hellish eternity also put forth by most faiths.
But when it gets boiled down to the real question it’s something like….
“Well my religion has to be the only right one, because if you could believe or practice something else, and still go to heaven, that wouldn’t be fair.”
“My book tells me I am of the chosen people, and tells me that THEY are not.”
“Why would God reward those who are not part of his special group, the ones who deserve reward?”
Why would He, or She?
I don’t know.
And I hope this doesn’t shock you, but I don’t care.
It’s not for me to care about.
I know that in the hope of heaven, I do not deserve to go there. I haven’t earned my way there. So if I get there it’s a gift. A gift given to me, because God wants to give it to me.
My beliefs give me an idea of the reasons for that gift.
A parent gives gifts to their children. Not because they have earned them, but because they love them.
That’s enough for me. I believe that God offers the hope of this gift to me.
I don’t know what he offers others.
And it honestly doesn’t matter to me. I do want others to know of this hope of salvation offered to me, and the path of faith I follow.
But I cannot, and will not, concretely state how eternity unfolds for those of different faiths.
And to those it really does matter to, I have to wonder why?
Why would you care so much that someone else might be rewarded with heaven when they are of a different faith, or even no faith at all?
Does it really turn you so upside down inside that heaven might be filled with Christians AND Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Pagans, Buddhists, Agnostics, Atheists, and all the rest?
I’m not saying that’s how it happens.
But why would it bug you so much?
What business is it of ours anyway to tell God what to do?
If God follows through with the promises of your faith with you, why is it such a problem that he gives that same eternal reward to someone else who hasn’t “measured up” ?
I’m going to end with a parable from the Book of Matthew Chapter 20, and I hope you’ll take the time to read it, and consider it when we get overwhelmed by thoughts that the NEXT GUY might just get paid the same as we do.
“Friend, I haven’t been unfair!… Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?”
I think this says God pays as he chooses, and it the long and the short of it, God is Love and Love Works!
1 “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.
3 “At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. 4 So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. 5 So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing.
6 “At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’
7 “They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.’
“The landowner told them, ‘Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.’
8 “That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. 9 When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage. 10 When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. 11 When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, 12 ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’
13 “He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? 14 Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. 15 Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’
16 “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”
©2008 Timothy Henry
Bible Quote from the NLT (New Living Translation)