Most of us would be aware of the common description of heaven as essentially a long-term tourist destination where the residents enjoy an eternal vacation. This view is similar to the assertions by other religious teachers that their adherents will enter an eternal pleasurable or unconscious state of rest and relaxation.
However, none of these descriptions of the after-life appears to be a logical progression of what happens to us on the earth. Last week we asserted that while we are on the earth we are supposed to grow up or mature as we improve our behaviour, attitude and motive in each responsibility we receive. This reaction to responsibilities should also extend to every event that we experience.
It therefore makes little sense that the knowledge and resourcefulness, acquired from years of maturity should, after life, remain untapped for all eternity. Before we are tempted to speculate about the after-life, it would be beneficial to know if Jesus’ teachings support this popular traditional conception of heaven. If it does, then identifying why we are on this earth to mature would be a challenging undertaking.
If we believe Jesus, then the after-life is not spent behaving like heavenly tourists, but rather performing challenging and fulfilling responsibilities. Jesus consistently taught that the kingdom of heaven was a place for productive and unselfish people to receive greater responsibilities. He also noted that those who chose to live irresponsibly and selfishly on earth would not be entrusted with such after-life employment.
The after-life is also described as a place of some sadness. For those who receive after-life responsibilities, this sadness is temporary and is described as crying. This seems to result from the realization that their husbands, wives, children, parents, relatives and/or friends’ chosen life of irresponsibility on the earth had disqualified them from after-life employment. However God promised to comfort the sorrowful.
For the unemployed, this sadness is described as wailing with an accompanying bitterness, apparently towards those who deceived them into thinking that no preparation for after-life work was necessary. The question that follows is: What types of after-life jobs are available? It is not clear what the specific work is, but Jesus taught that if we persist with, or are faithful in our earthly duties, then we will receive greater management type after-life jobs.
We therefore seem to be on the earth to be prepared for after-life responsibilities. Preparation comes through our reaction to responsibilities and events experienced while on the earth. This system is fair since regardless of the circumstances into which we are born or the environment in which live, or our place of work, we all have an equal responsibility to mature.
Our maturity therefore does not depend on our: opportunities, promotions, sufferings, popularity, employment, salary, membership in social organisations, friends, house, car, school, family, or nationality. As we live, we will attract sufficient individual experiences that will provide us with ample opportunities to improve our behaviour, attitude and motive.
We should therefore not waste our time envying other people, or coveting their belongings. Neither should we waste our time complaining about our circumstances. Instead, we should acknowledge our circumstances as opportunities for personal growth. While life may not appear to be fair if the objective is to accumulate wealth and fame, it does appear to be fair if the objective is to mature.
If, however, we address the notion of fairness, the question then follows: What about children who are killed by war, famine, sickness, and abortion? Jesus taught that the angels assigned to watch over children have direct access to God, so we can be assured that God Himself will take care of them.
It should be stated that the minimum requirements to receive after-life employment are to know the Great Employer and improve your behaviour.