I’ve been imagining a diagram for the last few days. Kind-of like a mental doodle. It looks like this:
belief —> forgiveness —> “heaven”
This is one way of describing how someone “gets saved.” The assumption is that God is holding something against us, and we have to find a way to get God to overlook it. If he does overlook it, he will allow us to go to heaven, where we will experience neverending bliss.
But I’m puzzled by something thats missing here. And its something that seems pretty important.
Will we carry our weaknesses to this place of bliss? Will the greedy still pursue their own desires, even to the detrmiment of others? Will the lustful seek to use others for their personal gratification? Will the dishonest continue to deceive for personal gain? Will we have our neuroses and paranoias? Our inclinations toward addictive and abusive behavior? I don’t think a community of eternal bliss is possible if its citizens continue to engage in prideful, destructive behavior.
I’m also wondering if the need for forgiveness the ultimate issue. Some people hold a caricature of God that makes him out to be vengeful and unforgiving, but if you sit down and read what scripture says – cover to cover – you’ll find that forgiveness flows pretty readily, even before Jesus arrives on the scene.
Is the problem that – in the abstract – God is holding something against us and we therefore need to appease him? Or is the problem that we’re abusive and prideful? Do we even have the capability to be responsible participants in this eternal, blissful society? Wouldn’t we simply screw that world up the same way we’re screwing up this one?
It seems to me that, in addition to “forgiveness,” the system by which God “saves” us must deal with our behavior. So, I’m wondering, is there a way to improve on my diagram?