A Penny for Your Thoughts

There is an old saying, “A penny for your thoughts,” which was usually uttered to somebody who was in deep contemplation.  It might be “a hundred dollars for your thoughts” today.  Typically, our thoughts are kept to ourselves since they are not meant for public scrutiny.  Some thoughts may be so mysterious, provocative, and controversial that we would not reveal these thoughts for anything less than a million dollars.

I never had significant control over my thoughts.  I can remember when I wanted to beat others up.  I can remember when I wanted to have sex with beautiful women that I saw.  I can remember when my thoughts were outrageous, but fortunately I never acted on many of my thoughts.  I felt that I was better than others who lost control and committed murders, rapes, assaults, burglaries, and other deranged acts.  However, I really was not better than anybody else, because I had given in to deranged thoughts.

In the Beatitudes found in Chapter 5 of Matthew, Jesus emphasized that we must have clean thoughts.  I always believed that if I believed in God and did not, in fact, commit adultery or other bad acts, I was a good person, who would be eligible for God’s kingdom.  But Jesus said that lusting for a woman is committing adultery in your heart.  This goes beyond being saved by believing in Jesus as the sacrificial lamb for our sins.  This goes beyond being saved by doing good deeds during our lives.  It reaches into a completely new zone where only a small percentage will tread.  Jesus instructed us in Matthew 7:14 that only a few of us will find this narrow path to Heaven.  Only those few with clean thoughts will pass through the gate.

I would guess that all of us have allowed our emotions to invade our thoughts.  We all have been angry at some point during our lives.  I know that I have been, especially when I have to scream “representative” a hundred times in order to talk to a person on the phone.  But Jesus said that anger could place us in jeopardy of not reaching the kingdom.  Jesus appears to be telling us that our thoughts will be our primary activity after we die.  Our thoughts may be the pathway to everything that happens to us from our death through eternity.

So, let’s stop and think about what Jesus may have been trying to say.  We know that when we die, we will either be thinking or not thinking.  Jesus appears to be saying that all of us will continue thinking whether we believe in God or not.  Those of us who are thinking bad thoughts will be judged accordingly.  Probably there will be just a few of us who will be thinking good thoughts, and these will have a better chance to pass through Heaven’s gates.

It actually makes sense if you think about it.  If you are still thinking at death, your thoughts will be what take you in whichever path you follow.  If your thoughts are clean, then you will take the high road; but if your thinking is faulty, then you will be on the low road.  And the scary thing is that your good thoughts could turn into bad thoughts at any time during the process.  By linking and unifying with God, you will have the best chance to stay on the right path.

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

One of the major complaints from atheists, agnostics, and even religious people is that God should not allow bad things to happen to people, especially good people.

Now, I would like to start our investigation into why this is a ridiculous complaint.  First of all, bad things happen to everybody, whether they consider themselves as good or bad.  And why do you believe that you are a “good” person, anyway?  If you consider yourself as being a “good” person, you are certainly less than humble, and most likely your pride has taken you to the “bad” side.  In other words, there may be no “good” person on our planet.

Perhaps, you would like to change the title of this article to “Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen, At All?”  This certainly avoids the difficult proof that you are a good person.  It focuses on God as being the culprit who allows bad things to happen to all of us.  We certainly cannot accept any of that blame!

Well, this takes me to my second point.  God, the Creator, more than likely, does not exist in His creation.  One of the few scientific laws is that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed in our universe.  In other words, creation occurred outside the boundary of our closed universe.  If all this is true, God can only create outside His creation.  And it is likely that God does not want to intervene or interfere in the evolution of His creation.

And my third and final point is that there should be consequences for “bad” people.  Why would God need to change that?  My guess is that God created the universe with “free will” and He allows us to make poor choices every day.  He does not prevent us from making bad decisions and also experiencing “bad things” because of those decisions, and most likely God will provide additional consequences outside the universe, if we are lucky enough to enter His kingdom.

Asking for relief from “bad” things that will happen to you is the same thing as asking for forgiveness for future bad acts.  It is a bit premature to request avoiding consequences in advance of your committing sins.  It is a much better act to thank God for the “bad” things that happened to you, hopefully making you a better person.  And also thank God for the “bad” things that will happen to you, reminding you to avoid those bad choices.

All this is the preliminary stage during your life, leading to the final judgment.  And again if “bad” things happen in the afterlife, then I will accept that as my fate because I was a “bad” person during my lifetime.

Now, many Christians will say that I am not a Christian because I believe that we all will face a day of consequences for our poor choices.  Christians say that Jesus died for our sins forgiving the bad decisions that we made during our lives, giving us safe passage to heaven.  I believe that too, except I must add an adjective… “…giving us safe passage to the first heaven.”

I am a Christian existentialist.  I believe that Jesus died for our sins so that we could enter the first heaven, which probably separates the believers from the non-believers.  Unfortunately, as Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 12:2, there are three heavens.  The Bible is very clear about there being a Judgment Day with consequences, which probably will be associated with one or both of the other two heavens.

Good and Bad

What is good and what is bad?  The answer may vary from society to society or culture to culture or even person to person.  However, most of us have a pretty fair idea of what is good and bad based on our instincts and experiences.

Yet, our species delivers the best and worst of all in the animal kingdom.  It is remarkable how the same person can be exceedingly good for a moment and, in the next second, extremely bad.  What causes Homo sapiens to flip flop between these extremes, sometimes without a transition?

One theory is that our emotions carry us back and forth from one extreme to the other.  If we do not control these emotions or if we have mental issues, such as being bipolar, this can happen quite often.  Most citizens attempt to moderate their emotions during good times, but this can change when times become difficult.  This can also change when people give in to temptation.  For example, a man who led a boring life with his wife found a more exciting woman at work.  The man would do everything good that he could for his wife, and then he would run to his extramarital affair without breaking stride.  How could the same man do good and bad?

There are cases of next-door neighbors, described as quiet and passive, who turn out to be serial killers.  Even though these are the exceptions in society, we still find many people who are nice and generous, who turn into angry, hateful citizens with little warning.  That is why it is very dangerous to rely on just dating for a few hours, several days a week to tell you all the need to know about a person.  You have to live with that person 24/7 in order to find out if they have a good-to-bad switch.  Alcohol, drugs, money, and sex are some of the typical triggers for the Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde complex.

Other animals do not appear to have these emotions that drive us to extreme positions.  Fear, envy, love, lust, anger, and hate are just some of the far-flung emotions that drive us to doing things that we normally would not do.  Let’s examine a man who becomes obsessed with a very attractive woman.  He might initially have been afraid to talk to her, so he may have watched from a distance.  Then he may have envied the gentleman who dated her for a week, but he might have loved her once they stopped dating.  This love may have turned to lust as he thought about what he wanted to do to her.  Then he might have become angry because he could not have her, which could have turned to hate when he decided to kill her.

So throw emotions on our free will to make choices and it is like throwing kerosene on a fire.  Homo sapiens are different from other animals in that our decisions are clouded by emotions.  Most animals act on instinct and primal needs to obtain food or procreate.  People are all over the board, depending on which emotion is pushing the action.

Q. Why can’t we exercise more self-control?  A. Probably, because emotions are similar to drugs.  They take over your mind and body, pushing you into taking extreme actions, usually bad.  The best approach is to “just say no to emotions” when they first pop up.