Continuing from yesterday’s post and reflection, I have really begun to question the narratives and messages I hear from fellow Christians and various pastors.
I am struggling to understand purpose. I am trying to understand what it is that God really wants from us. I am trying to understand why there is such a separation between Heaven and Earth. Basically, I am wondering what the Plan is. Why was Earth created when the goal for humanity is to transcend everything and find eternal bliss in Heaven?
Why would Earth have any value at all if the point of our existence is to focus our souls and our hearts and minds on God and the Kingdom of Heaven rather than our own immediate environment and worldly, Earthly affairs?
Some narratives and messages I hear would have me believe that Earth is just a temporary way station where souls are developed and prepared for Heaven or Hell. In that case, God created us so that we inevitably have to prove ourselves worthy of Heaven or Hell. According to the way station narrative, we were put on Earth to be constantly tested for our faith and loyalty to God as our Creator. Only when we pass the tests and trials and tribulations and offer ourselves completely to Christ will we be saved from our life’s torments and trials to reap the rewards of our actions and changes in heart.
I don’t necessarily agree with this narrative. However, I do believe we are constantly tested and put through trials. Where our hearts and souls lie is of great importance to God as well as to Satan in the great battle of good versus evil.
If I go back to the Bible and look at the Genesis story a few times, I can come to a conclusion that God intended for there to be a heaven on Earth within the Garden of Eden. God created us for His enjoyment. He wished to create animals and mankind on a beautiful, lush Earth. He wished to have companionship with mankind. He hoped mankind would appreciate and enjoy His creation and rightly worship their Creator as grateful beings in perfect harmony with God. It was Satan that mucked up the works by challenging God and introducing us to the knowledge of good and evil.
We were invited to question the perfect harmony and to doubt its existence. And in knowing evil, mankind explored and experimented with rebellion and with looking for other ways of obtaining bliss and pleasure. The picture of a perfect Earth and harmony with God was tainted when mankind developed their own ideas of what happiness was, what happiness could be, and what a relationship with God meant.
Did God intend for us to be ignorant worshipers? Did God create us initially to be mindless sheep-like worshippers who never questioned? One could make that conclusion too. I have often come to think this way from time to time, I admit. Yet, if the initial state we were in was perfect harmony with God, nature, Heaven on Earth in Eden… was there a reason to question this perfect harmony? Satan created a reason when he accused God of being a tyrannical Creator. Satan created a reason to question when he tempted us to doubt and question the power and moral compass of God.
Had Eve not eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we would have known only equilibrium. We would have known only a balance and harmony with Creator and the created. We would not have considered experiences to be sad, depressing, hurtful, shameful, or evil. We would not have been exposed to our own capacities for jealousy either. The dark bits of our souls would not have been revealed to us.
Interesting enough, prior to the fruit eating, the nature of both Satan and God were not labelled “good” or “evil”. One could reasonably believe God and Satan were neither “good” or “evil”. God was simply described as the Creator. Satan, as we later find out, is described as Deceiver. We did not come to that conclusion until after knowledge of good and evil came to be.
Now that we know what is good and what is evil and we know that we can be deceived and we know that Satan wants to prove God is wrong about humanity while at the same time prove to us God is wrong for humanity, how then does church fit in to this situation?
Church then becomes our refuge from Satan’s powerful, negative influence. Church is also our means to discern for ourselves what is good and what is evil. Church enables us to study the Bible and discuss it and debate it. Church enables us to re-establish the lost connection and balance and harmony we had with God. Church is God’s home in which we are invited to question so that we may learn, and to make right what was wrong in our thinking.
The church becomes a protected place of spiritual scholarship, in my opinion. Where I can objectively reason and discern and discover God without distraction or outside influences impacting on my thinking. God can reach me in church and speak to me if He wills it. And I can then choose to listen and follow God’s messages and teachings or choose to walk away and expose myself to Satan’s influences. Satan believed free will would undermine God’s authority. Satan accused God of creating humans to be his blind, ignorant slave-worshippers. The truth is, knowledge is power and God trusts us to use knowledge to find TRUTH. The TRUTH being that God didn’t create us to be slaves. God created us because He loves and seeks companions in His image.