Help Us Help Others

Help Us Help Others
Chaplaincy Clark County

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A minimalist theology

Good morning,
I pray the day finds you well.

Nose bleed question of the day.

Are we really looking forward to going to Heaven, or in the everydayness of our lives are we really more concerned with just staying out of hell?

This is the question that God woke me with yesterday morning.

I have been pondering this question.

If we are really looking forward to going to Heaven, our hearts are forming in a certain way. Thus, the actions that come out of our hearts with one set of motives. If all we are concerned with is merely staying out of hell, our hearts are forming in certain way. Thus, the actions that comes out of our hearts with another set of motives.

As I pondered this question, with tissue paper in hand, I was confronted with my own limitations.

I posed this question to some of the staff at our YMCA.

One of the staff, after sitting with it for a while said, “As a child I was very excited about heaven. But now, after all these years, after all the failures, all the mistakes, all the things that I have done wrong; if I am to be totally honest with myself I guess that when I think about it, I a really more concerned with just staying out of hell.”

Another staff member said, “If I stay out of hell, don’t I automatically go to Heaven? There isn’t a middle ground in-between is there?”

I told the staff that while there is a theology that has purgatory in it, a middle ground if you will. I do not hold to that theology. But what I am really talking about is the matter of the heart.

These are the things a chaplain gets to talk about with the people that call the YMCA home.

When I thought about it hard enough, wiping the blood from my nose occasionally. My thought process was. If I am really looking forward to going to Heaven, it is because I am truly in love with Christ and I know He is truly in love with me. That when I get to Heaven I will not be condemned for all the things that I got wrong in life, but rather I will be loved and accepted. If I am more concerned with just staying out of hell, it is because hell is a really bad place and I do not want to go there. My thoughts become, “what do I have to do to stay out of hell. What do I have to do to get a C-, if you will, a passing grade.

As I thought about the staffs answer about her concern with just staying out of hell, I was confronted with something that pastors talk about all the time, Grace. It is one thing to talk about Grace, it is quite another to truly feel it in your heart. You see this staff, after living a lifetime here on earth, had made mistakes, just like the rest of us. She was confronted with the fact that in her own self, she would never measure up, There was nothing she could do to be “good enough,” just like the rest of us.

This was no ethereal conversation. This was boots on the ground, a heart was broken by the realization that this person was thinking more about hell, and how to avoid it, then about Heaven and how great it will be.

I call this a minimalist theology, “What does one have to do just to stay out of hell.”

I am reminded of a monk. Brother Lawrence was a monk who had been relegated to kitchen duty. At the time he was not thought to have the intellectual prowess to actually do “Monk work” so he was in the kitchen. When Brother Lawrence made a meal, he made it as if he was making a meal for Christ. When he washed a plate, he washed it as if Christ was going to eat off of it. In fact everything Brother Lawrence did was as if he was doing it for Christ. Brother Lawrence did not do things, just to stay out of hell. No, in fact Brother Lawrence did not even think about hell, he thought about Christ and what it would be like to be with Him always. He thought about Heaven.

My prayer for today is,

Father, help me stay focused on You and not slip into minimalist theology. Give me Your words to give others that are confronted with the fact that they cannot earn their way into Heaven. Give me Your words to give others comfort and to know that You want to be with them, to love them, not to hurt them. That they have hope and a future.

Blessings,

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