a/k/a If I'm Not Getting Anything Out of It, Why Bother?
So, a comment to a post by Susanne reminded me of a post on another blog (I've looked but can't locate the post, sorry) from a while ago. The basic premise of the post, though, was what if you *knew* that no matter what you did, you were not going to be admitted to Heaven. As in, God Himself came down and said, 'Look, I appreciate what you're doing, there, obeying all my laws, worshiping. All in all being a great person. It's all very nice. But here's the thing. You don't make the cut. Sorry. Ta.' Would you, with certain knowledge that you're not getting the reward at the end of the race, keep playing by the rules? Or would you cut loose and indulge?
Most, if not all, of the people who responded said, no, of course I would still obey! Because it's God, and He deserves our worship, no matter what! And I'll be honest, I laughed myself silly and didn't respond, but the answer was, 'hell no! and if ya'll'd be honest, you'd say no too!' I mean, what's the point? If, no matter how good I am, no matter how perfectly I believe and keep the laws (whichever covenant you think applies), I'm damned? Hah. Then I'm going to live it up down here, because there's no frickin' point in denying myself! Drink, steal, sex *all over the place* because I'm not hurting myself! Mwahahahaaaa....*runs rampant over the earth*
And I forgot all about it. Then I saw the comment on Susanne's post. And the mention of the people who are promised that good things will happen to them if they just believe! If you just convert and join my church, all your troubles will dissolve! It's only because you lack faith that you lost your wife and your car and you job and your health is terrible! If you had faith you would be rich and powerful and healthy! Mental illness? God is *punishing* you for your lack of faith! *pauses to spit and gnaw on the furniture some more - jackasses* And these people, rightly, leave the church after they join and, lo and behold, their lives don't magically get better! We're not *promised* perfect lives, if only we believe. No, we're promised hatred and suffering as Christians in this world. So where in all the hells did these 'name it-claim it', 'prosperity gospel' yahoos get this idea? I mean, I know why they do it, they're all sleazeballs who want to get rich, and do. So, clearly, believing in God and following His commands is not done to get an earthly reward. Nope.
But isn't that, to a certain extent, what we do if we obey and believe just because we want to go to Heaven? It's not an earthly reward, no, but if that's the *only* reason we do it, because God dangled the shiny carrot in our faces, how is that better? Because you don't ever really *know* that you're going to Heaven. Not until it's all over. We have faith, yes, and we trust in God's mercy, but you have no concrete *assurance* of it. God doesn't hand you a key at some point and go, 'Okay, very nice. Your place is assured. Carry on.' Not until it's all over and there're no more chances to repent *or* to screw it all up.
So why *should* we believe and obey?
Because He is God, and is deserving of our worship and obedience.
Because we don't want to go to Hell.