Wednesday post! I could get use to this schedule. I’d been planning on doing an artsy post or a DIY herb-drying post, but those can wait. Instead I feel like writing about some a little… heavier? Eric and I have been sporadically trying to get up early to read our Bibles, have some tea, and pray. (Coffee… or tea, with Jesus.) This morning we actually read about the last supper and Jesus praying in the garden and then getting betrayed, and we talked about how even though Jesus’ whole life was leading up to this betrayal and ultimately death and that He knew it was coming and it had been prophesied years and years earlier and that it had to happen… He still doubted that everything would be ok. Like, He still even pleaded that it didn’t have to happen. Eric and I both agreed that recently in our learning who exactly it is that we believe in, discovering and understanding the humanity of Jesus more than the “God-aspect” of Him, makes us want to follow Him more. Oddly.
Anyways, talking about Jesus and God and those things lead us to the subject of Hitler (naturally…). For some reason recently I feel like I’ve become ultra sensitive to when people bring up Hitler and/or the Nazis as an example of ultimate evil. Ok, let me COA here for a second and say that I do not think the WWII Holocaust or any of the great evils dictated by Hitler were ok in the least. Just remember that. But… I guess I just find it strange in the ultra-politically correct American public world that we live in, it’s acceptable to assume that we all agree that Hitler was the all-time evil. I mean, I’ve even heard people who don’t believe there is a God in the least and strongly don’t believe in hell, say with complete conviction that yes, Hitler is in hell, and may he burn there forever.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, at this point in my life as I’ve been slowly dissecting the Christian beliefs I was raised with and pulling them apart to figure out what I actually believe to be true, I’ve come to a couple places in my thinking:
If I’m honest with myself, I mean, completely honest at the point where I pretend no one is reading this, I don’t believe there is a hell. I do believe there is a heaven. But here’s where things get a little different: I really don’t believe that the astronomically minuscule amount of time we spend alive, and whether or not we decide to say a certain prayer in a certain way (out-loud!) determines whether or not we face a kind and loving Creator or a wrathful, vengeful one. And eternity??
I’ve been reading C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce. Without getting too much into it, I think my beliefs line up with that story most closely right now; that just because you’ve passed through death, doesn’t necessarily mean the way to “Heaven” (for some reason, in this context, that sounds so cheesy to say, but I also think it’s the least-cheesy way to say it right now…) is closed to you forever.
These thoughts began brewing in me when, a couple years ago, someone very dear to me died, and they died without me knowing whether or not I would “see them in Heaven”. There was a point when I fell to the ground in sorrow, and I felt an incredibly strong tug that I could, and should, pray for them. Even though they were already dead. According to my beliefs at the time, this made no sense to me. They were dead, they were probably in hell and would stay in hell forever. But that tug was strong, when you just know something… Like when you just know in your heart the person you’re suppose to marry. I could still appeal for forgiveness for my dead loved one.
From this point, many people can (and have) quoted Bible verses to me that point to a Heaven and a hell, and that depending on saying that one little prayer or not in life, we will go to one or the other and stay there for eternity. I’m not trying to debate those people or those verses. (Please don’t write pages of spiritual debates on this post on Facebook or whatever, I’m really not a fan of those things at all.)
But for me, for just me personally, I know that if I believe in a God that really can save everyone, and that everyone around me, strangers, evil powers, politicians, rude people I meet, will be forgiven over and over again and offered chance after chance to be with God, even after death… That at least makes me want to be a better, more forgiving, kind, and (the hardest and most important) less judgey person.
Now, going back to Hitler (or Osama bin Laden, or Saddam Hussein, or Kim Jong Il, or Joseph Kony, or… George W. Bush… pick your poison) if I really do believe all that I just said, than logically, Hitler will be in Heaven enjoying God’s forgiveness with me… Can I believe in a God strong and willing and loving enough to forgive and love Hitler? …I’d like to think so.
This whole thought-process reminds me of the story of Corrie Ten Boom that I read in middle school, and how after the war she was approached by the SS guard who had directly caused her so much pain and the death of her sister in the concentration camps. He asked for her forgiveness, and even though she’d just been preaching forgiveness, it was something she had to dig deeply out of her heart to truly, and completely, forgive. But she did it. That really inspired me as a 13 year old. It still does.