Heaven or Hell is not about Pleasure or Pain…
Devotional Thought of the Day:
Each generation will announce to the next your wonderful and powerful deeds. I will keep thinking about your marvelous glory and your mighty miracles. Everyone will talk about your fearsome deeds, and I will tell all nations how great you are. Psalm 145: 5-6
1029 With your whole heart, ask for death, and a thousand deaths, rather than offend your God. And not because of the punishment due to sin, which we deserve so much, but because Jesus has been and is so good to you.
In other words, loving neighbor means not only coming under God’s law but coming into God’s life.
Growing up, often the motivation for behaving (or appearing to!) was nothing more than avoiding a swat, or being sent to one’s room, or some other form of punishment. In other words, behave or experience pain!
That concept bled over into church, where we were told of the pain of hell, the place where people who misbehaved were sent to be punished for all eternity. Church, for those who went, became more about modifying behavior. As the churches changed in the 80’s and 90’s, the withholding of wrath as the motivation was replaced with the positive reinforcement of a heaven where everything was perfect, tear free, a reward for those who had “done good”. Sermons became about training up people to do good, to look good, to have the perfect family, etc. Pleasure, ultimate pleasure, replaced pain as the motivating factor for behavior.
Both methods of behavior modification have failed me….
Both have used the law incorrectly, making the destination and its pleasure/pain more important than Jesus. Yes, there are promised places, and we all deserve hell, but heaven is a gift, not because of the stuff it comes with, but because it is life with a God who has proven that He loves us.
It is beyond logic or reason that He does. It contradicts karma and our sense of what justice is supposed to be.
That is why it is so incredible, so wonderful, so miraculous.
It is from that love, being in so awe of that love, that we find the ability to love in return. Being enveloped in that love, we find the ability to love others, it becomes more natural, and it doesn’t have to be as forced. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, not behavior modified by pressures to avoid pain or pursue pleasure.
It is life in Christ.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 170.