God, Self, and Salvation
Listen, GOD is real. That is basically a fact.
Think about it. For thousands of years people have been living there lives and for some terribly odd reason they have always believed there was some sort of higher power(s) in control of everything. The supernatural was simply accepted for what it was. People somehow realized that there was some force beyond them that kept everything going.
Think about it. If there is no GOD, that means one day thousands of years ago some human was walking along and decided that he would create the concept of GOD. Somehow he managed to convince everyone else. Yes, he convinced the most selfish independent power hungry creatures that ever existed to believe in something that was more powerful than them. It makes perfect sense. . . .
Ok, so maybe it is not as cut and dry as that. But honestly now, it just does not make sense to think that humans came up with the idea of GOD.
Now, I am not saying that GOD is personal or that Christians have things right. Honestly, I am not sure. I am saying that it makes sense that people have come with all the different world religions. People have this inherent need to connect with something beyond them and that is what religion does. Whether they are praying to Jesus or becoming one with the supreme reality, people are reaching out to the supernatural. It is something that humans can never quite fully understand; a mystery. Religion is a way of explaining this mystery; the mystery of GOD. Or if you prefer, we could call it “the supernatural.”
Despite everything science discovers, there are still mysteries science has not been able to explain. Maybe someday science will be able to explain everything. Maybe there will be a branch of science completely devoted to studying “the supernatural.” That would not make it any less mystical, it would only mean we could explain it better.
So maybe some people claim not to believe in GOD. Maybe some people say that there is not such a thing as the supernatural. Regardless, I can guarantee when times get rough, even those people start talking to something. Humans know there is something else.
Where does that leave the individual? Really, I do not have an answer for that question. I guess each person needs to figure out what there relationship with GOD looks like. You could say, “It is between them and GOD.” Perhaps they will find what they are looking for in Christianity, perhaps they will not. I think the important thing is that a person be open to GOD and where she leads. I also think that life is more about the way you live then what religion you are part of. A lot of people claim to be Christians and in a Western understanding they probably are. They go to church and live decent respectable lives. But most Christians forget about how Jesus said that in order to be a part of the kingdom of GOD a person must sell all they have and give to the poor. When I actually see Christians who are living a life like that, I have great respect for them. They are the few and the humble.
There are also a lot of people who are not decent upstanding Christians who have dedicated there life to serving humanity. It is impossible for me to believe that the “Western Christians” are on some sort of higher spiritual plain than these individuals.
People should try to save the world—whatever that looks like for them—always. I think that is the way that GOD would want humans to live. In a way, that seems to be the point of all the major world religions: to live unselfishly and to live in harmony with others. Unfortunately, humans are selfish and power hungry. Most of the time we just end up trying to be GOD ourselves.
So where does that leave salvation? It is hard to say. I believe that there could definitely be a sort of heaven and a sort of hell as well. If there is a GOD, then those do not seem like crazy ideas. However, even if this life is all there is, I do not think that changes anything.
The Maasai people of Tanzania believe that when you die, that is the end. This does not lead them to despair; instead it motivates them to live the best life they can while they are here. When a person dies young everyone mourns because it is a grave tragedy. If someone lives a good long life, then there are no tears at the person’s death. The family and friends celebrate because they know the loved one has lived a fulfilled life.
Many people—especially Seventh-Day Adventists—believe that there is a future to look forward too and forget about the present reality they are living in. There is nothing wrong with looking forward to heaven, but it is very sad to think that so many people are not living a fulfilled life here and now. As for me, I will side with the Maasai. A long purposeful and fulfilled life is my goal. I am not exactly sure what that will look like yet, but I want people to celebrate at the end of it.
Sometimes I think that maybe I am making a mistake in not fully ascribing to the teachings of Christianity. It is hard to not think those thoughts every once in awhile, especially when you have been indoctrinated with Adventist Theology your whole life. Maybe someday I will stop being so idealistic and become a decent Christian. Right now I am more worried about being honest about what I actually think and believe. I believe in GOD. I believe in a wholistic way of life. I believe the world is worth saving whatever that looks like. And I believe in living, truly living. Someday I hope to put into words what that is like.
* My opinions have changed greatly since I wrote this paper.