Friday, January 24, 2014

The Degrees of Meaning

When I read words about heaven or hell, good or evil, eternal life or damnation, singing the song of redeeming love or weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, I don’t immediately see how they apply to my daily life.  I think hell is for all those murderers and the like.  Evil is what they do.  Damnation is what’s going to happen to them which will cause them to weep, wail, and gnash their teeth in regret for what they have done. Those are all the bad guys.  And then heaven is for all those saintly people.  Good works are what they do.  Eternal life is what’s going to happen to them which will cause them to sing songs of redeeming love.  Those are all the good guys.
But since those two portraits seem so abstract and distant to me, they don’t really impact my daily choices.  When I look at these words as concepts that can be broken down into degrees, I can better see what they have to do with me.  It’s not an all or nothing deal.  It’s always incremental.

The All or Nothing Deal

Pure Justice is receiving the complete Result for what we are right now.  It’s judgment day right now.  No if, ands, or buts.  No time to get it right.  No training.  We either go to heaven or hell right now. 

Justice + Time = Mercy

Mercy adds Time to Justice.  It is receiving warning/confirming Effects incrementally on our journey right now.  It’s Teaching/Learning Day right now knowing that judgment day is on its way.  There are ifs, ands, and buts.  There is time to get it right but get it right we must.  We are in training.  It’s not the time to sit around in a make-shift paradise.  It’s time to work on achieving the Balance we want to reside in eternally.  It’s time to work on achieving that paradise that satisfies us completely and continuously.

Justice + Space = Mercy on Judgment Day

Mercy also adds Space to Justice.  Justice is living with someone and being subject to their Process however Balanced or Imbalanced it is.  Their Process = our Effects.  And our Process = their Effects.  There are some people we’re okay with living next door to.  There are some people we’d prefer to live a few states away from.  And there are some people with whom we would rather not be on the same planet.  

Listen:  "Imagine" by Amy Grant

On the other hand, there are some people we want to be around all the time.  We would even like to live in the same house as them.  And maybe one of them we would like to live with in the same room.  We just need to make sure we’re becoming someone who they want to live with that closely. 
Whose neighborhood do you want to live in?

And so what does your heaven look like?  Who would you most like to be with in that heaven?  Who would you most like to live in your house?

Listen:  "This is Your Life" by Switchfoot


Meaning + Degrees = Mercy

Mercy also adds degrees to black and white concepts such as damnation vs. eternal life, heaven vs. hell, good vs. evil.

If we talk about those words in their pure meaning, we are looking at Justice--Truth.  Because of Mercy, it’s not black and white.  Instead it’s degrees of Heaven and degrees of Hell.  Black, Shades of gray, and White (Alma 42:25).

The Degrees of Meaning

So let’s look at a couple of  these words to see how they might be affecting us right now in our daily lives.

Damnation:  Dam (noun):  a barrier, typically of concrete, constructed to hold back water
(verb):  hold back or obstruct

What in my life am I being held back from right now?  What is obstructing me?  What is preventing me from obtaining my Desires?

Eternal Life:  Eternal (adjective) continuous, everlasting, continuity, unbroken, without interruption, constant, steady, unchanging, habitual

What things in my life are continuous?  What habits am I developing?  What abilities am I acquiring?  What talents am I fostering?  What relationships am I building RIGHT NOW?

You see what I mean.  So when I study any book on self improvement especially the scriptural books that use words that I can’t apply to my life right here and right now, I stop and define the overall meaning of those words.  Once I have it, I apply it to my daily processes. 

Eternity Is Happening Right Now

My eyes have to be wide open because this is it RIGHT NOW.  This is the time to get ready for that state that I want to live in eternally.  I seriously want to be the same kind of person as the person I fervently desire to hang out with eternally.  Eternity is not only a future state, it is also happening right now.

I don’t allow myself to think words like hell-fire, everlasting pits of darkness, chains of hell, bondage, and bands of death have nothing to do with me.  And I want to know what is meant by words like the fire of the Spirit, everlasting Joy, bonds of love, drinking of the waters of life freely, and the fruit of the tree of life so I can identify what is really at stake here and what exactly it is that’s being offered.

So what is hell-fire?  Have you ever experienced it?  What are the waters of life?  Have you been drinking from them?  What does that feel like?  Where does the water flow best?  Where is it dammed up?

Listen:  "Too Late" by Amy Grant