Updated: Nov 26, 2020
A few weeks ago, I gathered with our older grandchildren (high school and college) for what they call Papa School. They suggest topics they’d like to discuss about the Christian life, the Bible, history – you name it and I try to answer them.
One of the questions they asked was “how can we say with confidence, all other religions are wrong and we are right?” You can read my blog “The Myths That Not-Yet Christians Believe About God” for the answer to that question.
But one of the other impromptu questions during that discussion was this, “Papa, what if the Bible isn’t true and there’s nothing after death?” Susan and I had the privilege of attending a Seder meal at a Reformed Jewish Synagogue with some of our children and friends, 20 years ago. After the meal several of the rabbi’s did a Q&A about what Jews believe. Our son Tyler asked this question, “Do you believe in heaven and hell?” Their answer surprised us, “Not all Jews do.”
Tyler responded with an obvious follow-up question, “Why would anyone be religious or worry about sin if there is no judgment and no heaven or hell?” The rabbi’s answer is similar to the one I gave my grandchildren.
“We believe God gave the Law to Moses and the Israelites, not as some kind of litmus test for who deserves a good after-life. He gave us his commands as a gift for this life! By living out the commands of God, we live lives of love and harmony with each other that makes this life so much better than it could ever be, just making up our own rules. Because of God’s laws, we value family, community, generosity, kindness, and respect for our elders. And for those reasons we love God. If there is an after-life, that would be icing on the cake. If not, God has given us the gift of purpose for this life and a blueprint for achieving it.”
Back to our grandchildren. I said, “If there is nothing after death, being a follower of Jesus is still the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. By obeying Jesus commandments, I’ve kept myself from all kinds of misery. And by living for others, I’ve had a life of purpose. You are a living testimony to that. If I had an affair or divorced your Nana, my guess is that your and my relationship would not be what it is today. You would not respect me enough to ask my counsel, and your parents would not trust me enough to let you spend this time with me.
But, by faith, I believe God’s promise of heaven. The Bible promises it. But if not, I have absolutely no regrets for having surrendered my life to Jesus and the will of God. The only regret I have is that I’m not a better follower of Jesus. I still sin and that sin robs me of even more joy and purpose.”
So, what do you think? If there is no judgment, heaven or hell, would you live any differently and why? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
How following Jesus works in real life.
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