Christianity is a product of checklists and walkthroughs. And it’s absolutely scary. Dreadfully scary. One has enemies on all sides. The Devil. The World. Oneself. The path one must take to reach Heaven is only mastered with a blindfold, a thin tightrope, and a large canyon. One must rely wholly and utterly on the goodness and mercy of God to reach the other side. It’s best not to think of where you’ll end up if you fall – and how easy it is to fall! We’re born covered in sin which weighs and drags us down, and not a single person is or can be perfect. And sometimes some of your various enemies come and push you. Sometimes God pushes you. There’s so much ample opportunity to fail – but just hold on: God’s mercy is on the rise again.

You get the idea. It’s a cycle of paradoxes where you go just far enough not to break the cycle – God caps every sentence with ‘mercy’ or ‘goodness’ or simple ‘mystery’. But as a Christian and sincere believer, I took these thoughts and notions very seriously. Some days hopelessly seriously. For, according to the Bible, Death would be conquered in the future, but I lived in the present. And while God could strengthen me and be more than enough in all things, he was also unknowable, incomprehensible, and…simply mysterious.

See, God might let you die at any time. He’s let better men and women go just as they began to blossom. Clipped them down without emotion. Or stood by, arms folded, while worse people had their way with them. God could do whatever he wanted. God could do whatever he wanted to me. And as great as his mercy was, and as much as he cared for me, and while his love endures forever, he might let me die and suffer in Hell. Now, Christian theology would not state it like that. Instead, I somehow send myself to Hell. But no matter: the point is that while I’m on that tightrope, blind and stumbling, enemies all around and God unknowable to me, I might fall. If I fall, even if I loved God, I might go to Hell. And that’s just not a place you want to be.

As a Christian, I was more afraid of dying than I’ve ever been since dropping belief. As a Christian, I couldn’t risk giving up my organs prematurely, for while I was in God’s hands he was known to have a few holes in them. What if I were on the operating table and, seeing a healthy heart and an unlikely prospect of recovery, they took the heart instead? It seemed too risky. I needed every single opportunity to stay alive so I could ask for forgiveness and be free of sin. I was never so deluded as to think I’d get a free pass in God’s book. After all, he might decide to allow me to send myself to eternal suffering. For those who think I was preoccupied with fear, allow me to assure you I got around jovially and felt warm and loving feelings when it came to God. It was the extra, unnecessary risk I feared most and so calculatingly avoided. Those who don’t understand this don’t understand how deadly serious the prospect of missing Heaven is, nor the weight of eternity. And let’s not forget that the majority of people don’t make Heaven (Matthew 7:13-14). The repercussions were so grave and the game was stacked.

In this way, I took Christianity to heart and home. I studied and read and studied and read. I prayed. I learned everything I could. I did not take God lightly. Nor did I overemphasize one aspect over another. Most Christians seem to think they’re going to Heaven. Scripture states no such thing. Some people overcome this by saying everything’s in God’s hands. Look around the world for an account of how idle those hands are. Some say God is Love and Mercy. He may be, but he’s just as equally Justice and Punishment. Some will take this paragraph as motivation to do more and show Christ’s love clearer. Don’t bother. This is no peroration. Take your Christianity more earnestly and these problems will shine through until the only way to get out of bed in the morning is to keep these ideas packed tightly away.

Think about it. Even a vegetative state might be helpful because what if? God just might decide to pop down and heal you (nevermind that this has never occurred). When your eternity is on the line, and that eternity involves whether you endure the worst kind of torture and pain, worse than you could ever dream of – then yes, you need to rely on every miracle to get you to anywhere but there. It’s so important.

And under such prospects, who could risk shedding organs?

 

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I went to school for Theology and Ancient Greek at the University of St. Thomas. I'm a slow reader and writer, enjoy art and nature, and am enthusiastic about science. I'm especially interested in evolution, ancient history and language, and poetry.

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