Religion column: The ruler by the Ruler
By Fr. Jonathan Filkins
Let’s say our number is up; it’s time to go to eternity; we are headed for the “last roundup.” These euphemisms, and there are many more, seemingly soften the blow of the reality of death. When said about the loss of another, for we the living, the panoply of best intents beguiles and distracts us with the reality of the loss, and the inevitable truth of our eventual demise.
For the Christian, we too are often distracted from the bedrock truths of the Faith; as given to us by the Holy Bible. Consider the oft stated reckoning at the “Pearly Gates.” The story is that Saint Peter is standing before a large ledger book, with the recently dearly departed standing before him.
Behind them both are the Gates of Heaven; the entry into a perfect, eternal life with God. In the ledger book are all of the sins and Godly deeds of the person standing before the Apostle. If, we are to believe, we have done more positives, than negatives, we are in! Like any lie, told often enough, it becomes truth. Sorry, but nowhere in the Bible is there any reference to such a scenario.
So then, if only our God can judge us, then what are the criteria? Even better, what is the passing grade?! We, as mere mortals, seek finite answers to both questions.
Now, consider there are no finite answers to be found. We simply do not know; albeit we regularly try. Let us say there is a passing grade to enter into Heaven. OK, then what may get away with, (nee: sin,) beforehand. After all, adherents to Secular Theology want wiggle room. Of course, some may insist, God grades us on a curve. Some frequently comfort themselves by claiming no matter what they do, as Jesus died for our sins, they are in. Perhaps it would be more apropos to claim Jesus showed us the way to salvation and everlasting life.
If there were an “acceptable” grade to enter Heaven, then what would it be?
Should there be a grading curve, or not, our life on this earth is measured by quite different expectations. While some churches have different ages for their members’ full accountability, we all have experienced the two-year olds familiar use of the word, “NO!” and innate ability to ignore what they have been told to do.
Most of us will agree that an eight-year-old should know the difference between right and wrong. Say such an eight-year-old went into the Claiborne Hills supermarket, with the express intent of stealing a candy bar. He looks around, grabs a Butterfinger bar, stows it in his pants’ pocket and exits rapidly. No one stops him, no one seemed to notice, as he reaches the edge of the parking lot to enjoy the spoils of the theft.
If we do not know what the passing “grade” is, this action might be the tipping point between eternal life and eternal damnation. In our humanness, we may offer that such an action, at such a tender age, could not possibly be adjudged. Let us say this same boy was abusing his younger sister, lying to his parents and bullying others at school. This sheds a different light on our judgements.
The hardest reality we have to face, is God is our ultimate judge. There is no ruler for the Ruler. No matter how we try to explain away our actions, not only is the Bible quite clear on who shall be our judge, it tells us clearly, “Now faith, hope, charity, these three. But the greatest of these is charity.”
As the faith-full Christians, we have the hope for everlasting life, and pray through Jesus Christ for God’s merciful charity in the Judgement. This is the only true answer for being forever with God in Heaven.