Christian teaching, seen simplistically, is that bad people go to hell and good people go to heaven.
Christian funerals consistently claim that the deceased is now at peace in heaven with our God. We mourners confidently accept that. We are convinced that our deceased is not a bad person, and that God would immediately grant him or her intimacy with Him in heaven. But, what about bad people?
When we become aware of Church teaching that God will forgive sinners, who repent of their sin on their deathbed, are we not puzzled? If God forgives life-long sinners, what does it matter if we live our whole lives selfishly ignoring God and consistently doing bad, even if not heinous, things? Why should we devote our lives to God if a “get out of jail free” card awaits our last-minute sorrow for our sin? How can we make sense of all this? Might eternal intimacy with God require more than forgiveness?
We know that the religious teaching that God loves us is true because reasoned argument establishes it. If you have not yet discovered this unrefuted reasoning, you can check it out in Chapter 13 of Discovering Life’s Purpose and/or in the Meaning of Life Video Series. But are you aware that God’s love is unrequited? What do we mean by this?
Have you ever experienced an unrequited love? Did you ever fall deeply in love with someone who didn’t love you? Or, did that happen to someone near to you? Did you, or they, move on, or patiently hold onto the hope that yours, or their love would someday be requited? Would God move on or patiently wait for you to requite His love?
But is it really true that God’s love is largely unrequited? Well, yes, by people who claim that God does not even exist, much less than that He is a loving God, and who live their lives ignoring Him. But what about the many of us who spend some time in worship and prayer? Isn’t that enough love for God? Or, for His love for us to be requited, must we love Him as He loves us?
In Chapter 19 of Discovering Life’s Purpose and in All the Alls in The Greatest Commandment we examine this question. We suggest that our love for God must be more than our love for the dearest person in our lives. Can anything less be loving God the way He loves us? Can anything less enable the intimate relationship into which God invites us?
Can God force your love? Or must it be you who develops the genuine love for Him on which eternal intimacy with Him depends? If you, might it not be rather difficult for you to develop a true love for God on your deathbed? Might it not be better for you to start now using, as a guide, any thinking in All the Alls in The Greatest Commandment that resonates with you?