Sunday, January 21, 2007

Eternal Life?

The sign at the Presbyterian Church (of America) down the street claims that, if I believe in Jesus Christ, I will have eternal life. My question is, “Who wants eternal life?”

When I was young, I thought that living forever would be a nifty thing. In middle age I began to think that eternal life might give me long enough to accomplish all the things I’d planned to do in my youth. Now, I’m a senior citizen; I’m having a great life; but I don’t want to live forever.

All those things I wanted to do in my youth are professions that no longer exist or are on their way out or have changed so much that I don’t want to do them any longer. I get tired easily, and I can’t do everything I want to do now. Why would I want this to continue?

I recognize the Biblical implications of eternal life – life after death – Jesus conquered death. I’ve heard about reincarnation, but why would I want to do this over again – even as a cow or a mouse or a leaf? The concept of eternal life is beyond my understanding now. I don’t want another life, thank you. This one was ample.

Whatever happens after death is not my business right now. I’m certain that my creator will take care of that, and I’m not foolish enough to presume to know. Never mind what is written in various scriptures; scriptures are ultimately written by humans, not God.

My business right now is to live, to enjoy life, to recognize the goodness and evil in the world and work toward/for the goodness. On a different level, I think God would like a relationship with me. Maybe that’s a human flaw: to think that there is a being greater than myself and to think that being would want a relationship with me. But, I feel a benign-ness when I try to communicate with God. Of course, it could be the squirrels outside trying to tell me the bird feeders are empty and they are hungry.

But, I choose to believe that goodness is an “other” being. The only models I have for relationships are the earthly ones; so I try to be friends with this “other”. I talk, I listen, I ask for advice, I give advice. And, yes, I do pray; I do ask for miracles and for interventions in the events and situations of my here and now. I give thanks for the goodness that I see. However, I’m not sure that’s within the power of this “other” – although some of those askings for miracles have been answered positively. So, I don’t know what I think or believe about prayer, miracles and strange happenings.

Perhaps I’m just communicating with my inner self – an essential goodness that lies within each of us. I trust that goodness to guide me, to be with me, and to help me.

What I don’t really expect that “other”, that goodness to do is provide me with eternal life. Not my problem. I can’t control this even though many people in all manner of belief systems seem to think that I can control what happens after I die. I don’t want to control what happens after I die.

What I want to do is to keep a relationship with this “other/goodness”, to have a good time, and to promote goodness in the world. That’s all I can do in the here and now. I leave eternal life to be a desire or concern for someone else.

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