Throw Away the Scales
The system of reward and punishment that pervades all of the world's societies and legal systems is based on the concept of debt and payments of debt. This is easy enough to see on the negative side of the scale but is not so readily perceived on the positive side. We can easily feel that a debt is created and needs to be addressed when something is taken from us or an offense is committed against us. But what about on the other side of the scales? How can the idea of debt and repayment explain the positive side where rewards are given out for doing good?
If we insist that punishments must be dealt out for the debts of offenses, the same principle must apply to how we perceive good deeds must be dealt with as well. And herein lies one of the greatest dangers that blinds us as to how skewed our ideas about God have become. Because we believe that every debt must be satisfied, then every good deed must have its reward according to our concept of what we think is an immutable principle. Some have even humorously suggested that no good deed will be left unpunished. This is a reflection of the intensity with which we adhere to the belief that all of life revolves around debts and payments, rewards and punishments.
But when we cling to the assumption that God also operates using these same 'principles' to govern the way He relates to His children, then in essence we are also insisting that all of our good deeds somehow make us creditors and thus someone must repay us to balance the scales of justice. And ultimately, if we are not repaid by others around us for all the good things we do, then before it is all over God has to be the one who is indebted to us and from which we assume we have the right to demand payment. Consider how Jesus spoke of the rewards of the religious leaders expecting rewards for their piety. (see Matthew 6:1-6)
This shows up in the attitude of people in some of Jesus' illustrations and stories. He speaks of people who demand an answer as to why they are not allowed to enter into paradise based on all of their good deeds. (Matthew 7:21-23) In essence, what they are basing their claims on is the strong belief that God owes them eternal life because they have accumulated enough credit from the supposed righteous things things they have done that they now have a right to collect repayment for those debts that they hold against God as His creditors. I know this sounds absurd at first when it is stated so openly, yet in reality it makes perfect sense when we begin to see the real basis of our views and what system we believe is in place in regards to all of our relationships.
While it is true that some of Jesus' stories include references to debts, owing, repayments and debt satisfaction including forgiveness of debts, in no way should that be taken to imply that God endorses this counterfeit system. It simply means that God has to use our language and speak in ways that we can recognize to help us begin to grasp that there are greater principles involved that are not like the ones we base most of our religious assumptions on at present.
If one is willing to being enlightened by the Spirit of God, they will soon begin to realize that God's ways really are not like man's ways but are strikingly different in nature than the principles we are used to relying on in this world. The kingdom of heaven operates on principles that to us seem backwards and upside down to what makes sense to us most of the time. As a result, Christians pledged to be followers of Jesus should be a bit suspicious if something feels too 'normal'. If is feels right and normal then we very easily may feel that way because our fallen nature resonates with it too readily.
God is not in the punishing or rewarding business like religion has long taught. This comes as a shock to many and sounds even scandalous. But it is only scandalous to those who are heavily invested in the reward and punishment system of this world. Those who have become disenchanted with the counterfeit system are more prepared to embrace heaven's principles that function on a very different basis, one that is in sharp contrast to the principles represented by the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Heaven's principles are found in the Tree of Life which is not a system of duality and balance between good and evil but is a singular system that operates only on agape love alone.
When we begin to grasp this truth, the absurdity of imagining that God might owe us anything becomes even more clear. God does not operate in the ways we assume in our justice systems using some imaginary scales in which He balances our good or bad deeds to see if we are in balance. This idea of balance comes from the false system where the currency is based on debts and credits. God's government thrives on love alone and needs no such artificial evaluation system and knows no debts or credits. Rather, in heaven's society all receive for the purpose of passing on life and blessings and love to others, not to balance debt scales either for good or for evil. Debts are nonexistent in heaven and need to be purged from our thinking as the right way of viewing those around us or even God.
Those who are lost will not be punished by an angry God exacting repayment for debts owed to Him. Rather, the Bible teaches that those who are lost will be so because they refused to love the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:10) In rejecting the truth about what principles govern reality they alienate themselves from the society of those who choose to live in harmony with the principles of life. When life is rejected the only alternative is to not have life which in our language is called death. Death is not an imposition by an offended God for debts that have not been satisfied but rather is simply a description of what happens when people choose to walk away from life and its Source.
But what of the rewards that Jesus so often speaks of? Doesn't that prove that God is at least in the rewarding business? No, not at all. When careful consideration is given to this in the Bible, the nature of rewards in heaven's system can be seen as simply positive natural outcomes of our choices and actions, not arbitrary entitlements to be collected for good performances. What I have discovered is that most likely the rewards valued in heaven will be enjoyed in the intimacy of the bonds formed from efforts made on earth to draw others to the love that we have come to experience from God ourselves.
What is even more amazing that came out of my search into this topic is that if we really want greater rewards in heaven – and we should – the way to achieve them is to do just what Jesus told us to do – love our enemies. The deepest and most rewarding bonds that can ever be produced between hearts that constitute the rewards most valued in heaven will result from winning the people who are the most virulently opposed to us, who hate us the most and resist us the most severely. Those who will have the greatest rewards in heaven may find that the stellar bonds they receive the most joy from will be with those that were won to God's side by the testimony of the very ones who were tortured and even killed for their faith in God. Thus the persecutors themselves potentially become the actual reward of their victims after the resurrection as their victims are overcome with joy that their death resulted in eternal life for the very ones who hurt them the most.
Based on this reward system it becomes easier to see that if we want to enjoy life – eternal life which means knowing God and His Son Jesus up close and personal – then obeying the instructions of Jesus to love our enemies and pray for those who abuse and persecute us is actually the most effective way to earn the kind of rewards that the saved will value the most. God's rewards are not in the form of riches or power over others like we are accustomed to having in our earthly systems, for these kinds of rewards only cater to our selfish natures which will have no place in heaven. But rewards involving tight bonds of love between hearts that have shared histories of former conflict changed to victory over selfishness and sin on earth will create the kinds of natural rewards that Jesus had in mind when He talked about seeking great rewards in heaven.
From the most ancient records in history it has been clear that the fundamentals most revered by secret societies and mysticism is the concept of dualism, the reward and punishment system, the balance of opposing forces of good and evil, light and darkness, ying and yang, fire and water, etc. Every society and every religion has this basic concept embedded in it in some way except the true religion taught by Jesus. On what basis do I make this statement? Consider the following quotation taken from one of the most influential people in the last 200 years.
At the same time that we judge that a free agent has done a good or a bad act, we form another judgment, as necessary as the first; that if he has done well, he deserves compensation; if ill, punishment …That judgment may be expressed in a manner more or less vivid, according as it is mingled with sentiments more or less ardent. Sometimes it will be a merely kind feeling toward a virtuous agent, and moderately hostile to a guilty one; sometime enthusiasm or indignation … The judgment of merit and demerit is intimately connected with the judgment of good and evil… Merit is the natural right which we have to be rewarded; demerit the natural right which others have to punish us… Reward accorded to merit is a debt; without merit it is an alms or a theft … The Good is good in itself, and to be accomplished, whatever the consequences… Virtue without happiness, and crime without misery, is a contradiction and disorder … … This law that attaches pleasure and sorrow to the good and the evil, is, in general, accomplished even here below…To the moral law in the reason of man, corresponds liberty in action. Liberty is deduced from obligation, and is a fact irresistibly evident. Man, as free, and subject to obligation, is a moral person; and that involves the idea of rights. To these ideas is added that of merit and demerit, which supposes the distinction between good and evil, obligation and liberty; and creates the idea of reward and punishment.
Does this reveal more clearly anything about the nature of how the world views justice, morality and even God? This clearly spells out that reward and punishment is the system upon which the kingdoms of this world operate. Consider the even more revealing words in the next section of this work.
The distinction of the two Principles was admitted in all the Theologies, and formed one of the principal bases of all religions. It entered as a primary element into the sacred fables, the cosmogonies and the Mysteries of antiquity… The harmony of the Universe is a combination of contraries, like the stings of a lyre, or that of a bow, which alternately is stretched and relaxed.” “The good,” says Euripides, “is never separated from the Evil … The two must mingle, that all may go well.” …“And this opinion as to the two principles, continues Plutarch, is that of all antiquity. From the Theologians and Legislators it passed to the Poets and Philosophers. Its author is unknown, but the opinion itself is established by the traditions of the whole human race, and consecrated in the Mysteries and sacrifices both of the Greeks and Barbarians, wherein was recognized the dogma of opposing principles in nature, which, by their contrariety, produce the mixture of good and evil … We must admit two contrary causes, two opposing powers, which lead, one to the right and the other to the left, and thus control our life … This doctrine … has been generally received by most nations, and especially by those who have had the greatest reputation for wisdom ...
All have admitted two gods, with different occupations, one making the good and the other the evil found in nature. The former has been styled “God,” the latter “Demon …
And just who is it that wrote this most revealing exposé spelling out the nature of what seems to normal and right to many of us? The author of this work is Albert Pike, the founder and father of the Masonic Order, the imitators of the mysteries from ancient Egypt and all the pagan religions since that time. (excerpts quoted from Born, “Über die Mysterien der Aegyptier,” p. 607-609 and 555-556)
The kingdom of heaven is not like the kingdoms of this world and we must embrace that truth far more than we have at this point. We must be born again into a kingdom based purely on selfless, other-focused agape love that views others as more important than ourselves. In this kingdom our value and confidence comes from being cherished children of the heavenly King, not from anything we do whether good or evil. Our citizenship is in heaven and our principles and characters must reflect the ways of heaven, not the counterfeit principles originating from the father of force, deception and fear.
We can be debt-free because in heaven's family there is no such thing as debt.
We can feel valuable and whole because in God's family all are equal without distinction and hierarchy.
We can feel free because in heaven's living there is no forced obedience but only joyful integration of hearts filled with gratitude, respect and love for everyone.
We must enter into this kingdom now, not some time off in the future. Unless we begin living under this system now and become accustomed to living by heaven's principles instead of the counterfeit ones of earth, we will never be prepared to enjoying this kind of life and will find ourselves so uncomfortable in the society of heaven that we will prefer the company of the lost more than the atmosphere of heaven's love. It is all up to the choices we make now as to which system we will embrace and employ in our relationships with each other and how we believe God deals with us.