It’s important to believe in something. Having faith is a constructive process if used correctly. Whether with the Buddha or Jesus or Zarathustra, having security in something beyond yourself can be a grounding experience. This, by no means, is the end of it. It is not who or what you worship that matters, it’s that you worship that counts. Having something to believe in can make for a better life, or at least a better day. It’s not that there are any real differences from faith structure to faith structure. The foundation and basic tenets of each religion, or belief, vary only in the commentary. It all comes from the same place but we define it on our terms so that we may relate and then understand. At least, that’s how it is supposed to happen. Unfortunately, we pay all our attention to the commentary and disregard the commonalities or any “golden rule” completely. We focus all our effort on the messenger and we change the message to suit ourselves. We do not even heed the various warnings our own Savoir has to offer on the matter. We don’t love God because He first loved us, we love God for what He can offer us. We pray but it is shallow and selfish and constructed all from the ego. We think we hold God’s favour because we follow along, but we pick and choose like a dog with two bones. We want it all but we don’t want to have to do any work to get it. Most people are entitled Salvationists. They walk around thinking they are right, and therefore justified, even if their validation is completely false and misleading. It’s strange how people are so sure they have the answers but fail to demonstrate the truth through their actions rather than simply with all those words. Blah blah blah. If God is for all of us then what sense is there in focusing on the variables rather than embracing the common threads? If God is for all, then who are we to question? If God is for all, then the commentary we carry with us means nothing and is nothing.
Jared was a good Jew. He practiced the tenets of his faith and tried his best to serve the God he believed in. He died an easier death. In less than a heartbeat he hit the floor, and never saw it coming. He was gone in an instant, the victim of a bad diet and no exercise. The 7-8 cigars a day only quickened the death. The transition seemed faster than his passing. When he met Jesus at the pearly gates, it was all for naught. It was apparent that Jared was not the only soul without redemption. The lineup heading for torment went on and on, far past the place. The end of the line was the beginning of his punishment. It mattered little that Jared spent his life following the Hebrew God. It didn’t matter his philanthropy, his charity. It didn’t matter that he followed the same set of instructions everybody else has the option of knowing. Jesus would not let him in. He did not know Jared so he sent him off to his doom. Off to hell he was sent because he didn’t serve this Messiah. Off with his head for not believing. After all, Jared had his entire life to accept the Christ as the one true God. He had heard the message, over and over, but he paid it no heed. Now came the time to pay the price. He was not alone. All that waiting for hell was much longer than he had expected. There was little discrimination in this delay. The faces of the condemned were as varied as the reasons for them being there. Every Muslim, every Buddhist, every soul not connected to literal Christianity bore the scars now, for ever and ever.
I grew up trained to serve Jesus. From my early years in Sunday School to altar call after altar call as a teenager, the risen Christ was my Lord and my Saviour. Everything in my life was filtered through the literal interpretation claimed in the Holy Scriptures. Without Jesus I was doomed. If I did not qualify for salvation, He would send me off to the burning pit saved for Lucifer and all his dark angels. There was no other way into heaven but through Him. He stands like a celestial doorman, checking your identification to see if you are on the list. It doesn’t matter your excuses, if your name is not in the Book of Life, then you can’t get in. Only loyalty to Jesus welcomes you. There was absolutely no other way. It was ingrained in me that any other manner or pathway to redemption was irrelevant and without substance. Evil dwells in these distractions. Jesus was the door and believing in Him was the key. One had to change spiritually, a rebirth was required of each and every soul. Any other means than “The Way” was blasphemous, idolatrous, and placed any foolish disbeliever into eternal torment. I never realized the complete futility of following a guide to heaven. Every person is different, we all believe differently even if we follow the same set of standards. None of this really mattered to me, I knew I was disposable. Even though I was constantly informed that Jesus did not want me, I still stood behind Him and His teachings. This created a huge problem for me. As a homosexual, it didn’t matter what I practiced or how hard I tried to follow along, my salvation was already null and void. Just the act of being was my sentence. No matter my surrender, no matter how completely I attempted to secure His favour, the fact that I remained a sodomite, regardless of whether I wanted to be or not, determined my fate. Even wishing it away meant nothing. I was born unwanted. I grew up rejected. There was no way home for me.
Every once in awhile, Jared would look past the misery and stare upward, searching for his very own heaven. If only He had chosen the right direction. If only he was given the choice now instead of just then. It was a dry heat. It did not suffocate him in spite of his temporal coil. He melted over and over again. Every moment of his eternity was vulgar fire and heat and flame. He never got used to it. Each time was as painful and a constant reminder of what he had failed to do in life. Every passing of every moment was a trap inside of itself. He could not escape the voices or the flashes or the guilt. In rapid motion, everything played over and over again. Like a loop, there was never a break in it. It played and it played and then it played much more. Like a never ending drone of grief and anger and torture, it went on and on and on. There was no forgiveness here. Only abandon met the many. Tossed into a storm of hopelessness, Jared screamed in grand display. Nothing could quench the fire. Therein maggots did not die in the same repose. It was unceasing, an otherland of ash and gloom and despair. There was the gnashing of teeth, in one accord, lasting forever and forever. Jared knew that he had received that which he had paid for. You get what you give. It was his own doing that brought him to this place for all time. He just never thought there was anything wrong with not worshipping Jesus. Had he known. He did know. He had heard the message, the gospel truth, like any good North American boy would. He had consciously chosen to stay in his own yard. Many found themselves in the same condition. There were even children here in this abyss. Each one screamed the same scream as the one before. It was a choir of agony, a choral arrangement, literally from hell. With little option, and no choice, Jared often joined in the singing.
When I am alone with myself, it is like a safe harbour but sometimes I am stormed by rough seas. I am carried away with ideas, usually just before I sleep. I think about all the possibilities, all the options one has when living a spiritual life. As I float away on that cheerful note, I quickly realize such thinking simply seals my fate. I no longer believe that God needed a sacrifice to unify mankind to Him. I don’t believe in the virgin birth, nor do I believe that Jesus was God manifested in human form. I very much doubt most of the Bible and even more within the New Testament. I find myself bound to follow but in a different kind of way. As I close my eyes to dream each night, I do not see streets of gold or the risen Lord. I do not fear eternal damnation nor do I believe a place was created for all the bad little people to singe for all time. I am prepared to face my maker. I am ready to be held accountable. For me, if the Judeo-Christian Godhead is reality, then there is nothing I can do about my future position. Regardless, I was ill-fated right out the womb. My life has been for nothing and with certainty I am going to burn. It doesn’t matter that my nature is in harmony with much of Christian thinking. It doesn’t matter that I have seen the way or know how to follow it. I was conceived in sin, and raised in sin (regardless of the love of my parents) and I will die in sin, no matter any claims of mercy once made on paper.
I still suffer at the absolute audacity of the Christian God. I also have visions of a world where we are all equal in God’s eyes and treated accordingly. As a mere mortal, I hold God to a higher standard than mere mortal. I have to question whether the flames are real. There is a part of me often afraid that I no longer have Jesus in my back pocket. He doesn’t know me anymore, I suppose. Sometimes I can feel the flickers of doom, licking at my feet. I fear I am to be consumed. So you try to imagine if God was different, if people were different, if you were different. After all these years, there are still times when Jesus makes me ashamed of my sexual orientation. I am a filthy abomination and I need to be destroyed. I’m screwed. I can turn away from my sin and lead a different life. I can fall into as much Glory as I would like to. I can be born again and again and again. It doesn’t matter. You cannot escape the reality of what you are (at least in Christian terms).
I can choose to not give in to temptation. I can lead the life of a eunuch. It’s all irrelevant.
I am not saved by grace but rather, condemned by it.