Friday 7 May 2021

Living in hope and expectation of Heaven after death; has become Only way to live well (in this life)

When Christians urge themselves, and each other, to live in Hope - hope in expectation of the resurrected Heavenly life beyond death - this is usually mis-understood to mean ignoring this mortal earthly life (both its positive possibilities, and its suffering and despair) in favour of thinking about our future after death. 

This sounds-like childish wishful thinking to unbelievers - living for Heaven sounds like a recipe to waste our mortal lives... But if it meant living for Heaven instead-of for now; this would also be unacceptable philosophically; because it makes no sense for a loving creator God to ask his children to live mortal lives that are futile.

It sounds-like - in trying to be unworldly - Christians are denigrating this world; and pinning everything (including this mortal life itself) on hopes on being lavishly compensated for this worldly-denial by some better future state of being... 

It sounds-like Christians are making a mortal-eternal 'trade-off'; as if Christians are being asked to give-up moderate and temporary satisfactions in this world; for the promise of later and eternal reward in the next world. 

But, however it sound to superficial analysis; properly understood almost the opposite is the case

It is the fact of resurrected life in Heaven that makes possible a meaningful and purposeful life on earth. 

Mortal Life and Heaven are synergistic, not in opposition; but Heaven must come-first, because Heaven provides the frame for mortal life. The frame (of life before birth and after death) that gives meaning and purpose to what is within. 

Heaven provides the eternal frame that makes-sense of your mortal life and my mortal life... But only if we personally have made the choice of Heaven. 

If, on the other hand - like almost-everybody all the time (and self-identified Christians when their faith wavers or subsides, and they fail to repent) we choose only this-world - then we destroy any possibility of a life of meaning and purpose.

Because if life is temporary and leads always to annihilation, and if Men are not children of God the creator (and each with an unique destiny in Heaven) - then there is nothing worth doing in this mortal life because it is not going anywhere, and all possible human (and other) relationships are merely transient psychological blips. 

Only by choosing to live this earthly mortal life in context of Heaven - can we have value and appreciate both earth and Heaven. 

Only by faith in eternity can the little things of our life be known as significant. 

When this life is known as a time of learning, individually-tailored by God for our own spiritual learning - only then we can we take this life seriously as valid and necessary despite everything in this being temporary. 

And despite this life at times being a place of suffering. This mortal life is not meant to be bliss but a time of preparation: preparation for Heaven. What we learn truly, here-and-now, we can benefit-from forever. 

Just as the only route to resurrection goes via our death; so the only way we can learn that which we need for resurrection and for our best Heavenly existence goes via this mortal life. 

So long as you are alive, you have some-thing (or many things) you need to learn; or else God would not be sustaining you. 

That is the meaning and purpose of your life - in other words the meaning and purpose of your life is contained in the experiences of your actual life; including your mental life, your thinking life - and your dream life as well.

Your job is to learn from these experiences - and (as of 2021) that learning needs to be active, conscious and by choice.  

Heaven does not replace earth, does not drain meaning and purpose from this mortal life; but instead your actual and experienced life gets meaning and purpose from Heaven - and only from Heaven. 


TonguelessYoungMan said...

As an (amateur, but well read) historian a commonly cited "cause" of the fall of Rome from anti-Christians is that Christianity ruined the Roman Empire due to Christianity being a "pie in the sky" religion, that the Christians neglected worldly concerns. (Most famously Edward Gibbon, said things along these lines some 250 years ago)

This flies in the face of the fact the Christianity sustained the Western Roman Empire for over 100 years after it "should have" collapsed in the Crisis of the Third century, and more strikingly the Christian Eastern Roman Empire, which despite all odds managed to exist far longer than the Pagan Roman Empire.

Bruce Charlton said...

@TYM - I used to write blog posts on this very topic. On the one hand, Britain was devastated by the fall of Rome - on the other hand, at that point Constantinople had been capital for about a century by then (Constantine being crowned in York, England) and survived approx another 1000 years (the longest lived Western political entity of the past 2000 years, apparently). After the Norman conquest, about 10,000 Anglo Saxons fled to Constantinople, and set up an English colony there which lasted some hundreds of years. But anyway - you are correct that the idea that Christianity weakened the Roman Empire is absolute nonsense