Jennifer and I have been enjoying watching the show “The Good Place.” The premise is, that everything you do is awarded a certain number of points, if it’s good, and points are deducted from your score, if what you did was bad. And if your score is high enough, you get to go the Good Place when you die.
One of the issues that has come up on the show is unintended consequences: a character got positive points for choosing to eat healthier and buying a tomato, but then he lost more points than he gained, because so much fuel was spent to get the tomatoes to his supermarket, and the tomato picker was underpaid, and harmful pesticides were used...you get the idea.
The good news for us is that isn’t how things work: There aren’t a million statisticians keeping track of our point totals, and our eternal fate isn’t in our own hands. And that’s good, because we rarely get things completely right. I remember my aunt giving me a penny inside a little glass bottle. It was such a neat gift, I brought it to soccer practice in my pocket so I could show my friends, and you already figured out what happened next. All I had to show them was pieces of broken glass and an ordinary penny.
Imagine the pressure we would be under if we were trying to score heaven points all the time, spending all the life we have been given worrying about the life to come. I don’t think this life that God has given us would feel like much a gift, would it?
But the reality is, we still do spend a lot of time trying to score heaven points even though we don’t need to, or at least beating ourselves up when we fall short of our ideal for ourselves. And that isn’t helpful for what God calls us to do. We are called to be loving, not perfect; and it is hard for us to love others when we are angry or disappointed with ourselves.
Jesus Christ frees us from this. As it says in 1 Peter 1:3-5: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
God created this world and called it good – we are already in The Good Place! And wherever we are headed next, we know Jesus Christ goes before us – a new creation, by the same loving God. So we are meant to be free from fear, free from worry, so that we can be fully present where God has blessed us to be. May your days begin with the sure and certain hope that Christ is with you, and may your days end with thankfulness for the ways that God has revealed his love to you in your waking hours.
This article can be found in the October 2019 Newsletter