While enjoying a hamburger at the local mall I couldn’t help being aware of the heated discussion at the next table. Suddenly the young woman jumped up, slammed both hands onto the table and yelled at the guy, “You can just go to HELL!” At that point the guy retorted with, “Funny, I thought I was already there with you in the starring role as Satan!” Since the mortality rate for humans is 100% then to one degree or another we have all thought about what happens after. For many Christians what comes to mind is either Heaven or Hell. Many think that Heaven is where everything is going to be wonderful and that Hell will be a sort of never-ending prison where everything we hate or fear is right there with us forever… brussels sprouts, elevator music and pimples! Neither Heaven nor Hell are about a “place”, points earned or demerits but about one’s relationship (or lack thereof) with the Divine. Hell is life-without-relationship-with-God and Heaven is being able to go deeper into relationship with God. And we get to choose which one we want starting right now, not after.
Anticipating St. Juvenaly Mission’s real estate closing on the Honomu property on April 27th once again I went down to Honomu’s street-level on Google Earth and took a “virtual walk” along Old Mamalahoa Highway into the tiny town. I noticed how many houses of worship there are: a Church of Christ, a Roman Catholic church, two Asian temples and soon the new Orthodox Christian temple of St. Juvenaly! Perhaps Old Mamalahoa Highway should be renamed the “Holy Road” where people can travel to deepen their relationship with the Divine!
We have a lot to learn from Hawaiian understandings about relationship, the heart of which is the concept of Respect… respect for the Divine, for the ‘aina (land) and for other people. This is not respect out of fear but out of a reverential attitude of gratitude. Hawaiians understand that relationship is not about what I want but about what we need. In other words relationship is other-centered instead of self-centered. If you are self-centered in your relationships with other people then it’s likely you are also self-centered in your relationship with the Divine. In the end Hell is being a prisoner of that self-centeredness!
Many Christians focus upon the Rapture… that moment when Christ comes to gather up all those who deserve to be with God in Heaven. Often by focusing on what we hope is coming we become oblivious to what is right here now and out of that blindness flows irresponsibility and disrespect toward the environment and other people. What is strange is that many who are so preoccupied with being among the Chosen live out each day still gossiping, still being disrespectful, still trying to get away with being as little good as necessary and yet be found worthy of being taken to Heaven. The fact is that our relationships show us where we ARE which is also where we will BE. So the real question is, “Where are you right now… Heaven or Hell?”