Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Meaning of Life or Life After Death?

Religion is a touchy subject. How does the meaning of life fit with the faith idea of life after death?

I went to church over the weekend with my grandparents. The congregation was studying Psalms and the sermon topic was When the Bad Guys Win; why be good if the bad guys win.

For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles, their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. Psalms 73:3-5

Apparently not much has changed in the past 3,000 years. That's a bit depressing. Or maybe it's telling.

The pastor was doing a fantastic job working though the proceeding verses drawing parallels to our modern day life. I couldn't wait to hear the answer he was building up to. Finally it came: Get perspective.

Here was where my idea of reality and the churches went in totally different directions. I was sitting there thinking about the TED presentation by Nic Marks I posted a few days ago. Wealth and arrogance are not the keys to happiness. I was considering all the gratification that is achieved by living a good life, connecting with others, giving and doing something meaningful with our time on earth.

I was actually taken aback when the pastor said, "Our time here on earth will seem like a dream when we move on to our eternal life with God." Really, life after death, that's it?

I couldn't help but hope that no one in the room was suicidal. The pastor went on and on as if the get to go to heaven revelation was supposed to make enduring a shitty life worth while. There was no mention of bettering or making the most of our time here.

I admit that I am not actually a religious person. Answers like that are a major part of the reason why. It seems to me that God would want us to do something productive with our lives, not to simply endure them.

I believe that a better and more fulfilling use of our time would be to educate and inspire. We should be fighting to preserve the beautiful planet God gave us instead of letting the "wicked" destroy it. I don't think that we should just sit back content with our faith that we will be "saved" in the aftermath of their actions. There is too much at stake.

If you think that I am saying the Pastor was wrong with his message you are would be incorrect. I don't think he was wrong, but I do think that he missed something. He could have given his congregation hope now for their time on earth instead of just the promise of eternal happiness.

Life is precious. Living is a gift. We should rejoice in that.

8 comments:

  1. Thank you for being to honest Ashley. It is hard to grasp faith in the midst of suffering. I do believe that God HAS given us each giftings and talents and I do believe that we are to use them. Not so much for our own edification but for others to and to glorify God. The greatest commandment given in the Bible is to "love the Lord you God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important:love your neighbor (those around you) as yourself." Matt 22:37

    I have to say, Ashley, that I see both in you. Even by questioning God, you are honoring Him (better than apathy) and what you are doing for others is extraordinary. I hope you are not taking this as preaching. I am encouraging you!

    I have a blog at www.lymegirl.webs.com and I often process my Lyme & suffering through my faith. No, I'm not all that and I don't have all the answers but I still believe.

    Peace to you,
    Sarah

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  2. GREAT post. I am a God loving person, in fact I believe He is the only reason ANYTHING in my life is working.
    I get what you're saying about what the pastor said. I think as humans were ARE supposed to try our best to make the world a better place. We are to love one another and care for all that God has given us. Perhaps what the pastor meant by what he said was simply that, even though there is so much suffering in this life, those that have faith in God will live forever with Him and that is the most important and amazing thing. Basically that we should do good things on earth but even when bad things happen, we still have the hope of eternal life. Ya know?

    I struggled for a LONG time with being a vegetarian. Other believers would actually tell me I was a sinner because I didn't eat meat, because God put animals here for us to eat. (which I will say, I do agree with) However, God gave us the animals to care for and respect, not mass produce and destroy in factory farms...but the point I'm trying to make is-we are supposed to care what what God has given us and live life to the fullest! Bad things will happen, they will ALWAYS happen because we are human and we constantly make mistakes but God made a way for us to be with Him when we die on earth and that's something I know I personally look forward to.


    Also, I'm not trying to preach, just a friendly personal thought on your post.

    PS-I remain a vegetarian because I believe that God put that love for animals into my heart, I don't care what other believers tell me. Especially because the only opinion that truly matters, after all is God's, and He loves us no matter what.
    OK my rant is over!

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  3. Thank you for your responses! I was a bit nervous to post this one.

    RosMari, I think you are right about what the pastor meant. I just wish he would have touched a little on the joys we have now. Over the summer a teenage boy committed suicide in the town where I was living. His bible study group had been exploring the same topic. It wasn't until after the suicide that the pastor recognized the extreme importance of also including the meaning of our time on earth. That is why this subject was so provoking to me.

    I will continue to be the glass half full, good person that I am and I may even go back to church with grandma. The pastor there has an excellent way of making his sermon meaningful to everyone regardless of faith.

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  4. I loved this post too because I have so many questions about God, life & death! I hope that my life here on Earth has some meaning & purpose beyond just going through the motions...I feel like I have so much to do before my work here is complete. Thanks for sharing Ash. =)

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  5. I could not have said it better myself. Thank you so much for posting this. I had the same thoughts recently, while at the funeral of a loved one. The priest didn’t focus as much on Heaven being the dangling carrot as it sounds like the pastor did, but the experience reminded me of just why I don’t buy into christian mythology; my philosophies are decidedly more buddhist in nature.

    I can’t live life in anticipation of what may come next, and illness has really driven that lesson home.

    Thanks for bringing up this issue. It’s an important one.

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  6. Dayle Ann StrattonMarch 31, 2011 at 11:24 AM

    My own feeling is that when people put so much empaphasis on life after death, it is a cop-out for taking responsibility for the here and now, including our own ability to be fully alive and to participate in life to the best of our ability. I do not want to meet my death having given my life away to anticipating what may or may not come next.

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  7. Thank you for writing this. I struggle with this a lot. I was raised in a Christian Lutheran Church which I still attend when I am home from school, but I struggle with so much! How could God let my best friend be abducted, killed, and dumped in a river! Like WTF!! But then at the same time I believe that my friend is in a better place and at peace...perhaps Heaven. I really feel like I am on both sides of it, but I don't know how to believe in all of it anymore!

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  8. Ash takes a lot to express your opinions and questions. I, like you, wonder, think, and question. Looks like many kind, thoughtful, and insightful people follow you.

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