What’s Really Important?

We tend to focus on all the wrong things during our lifetimes.  We think a lot about ourselves and how to make our lives better.  We are very selfish, but we have occasional love interests that interrupt our fascination with ourselves.  But typically we discover that the love interest primarily existed to satisfy our personal sexual needs.

I stopped having sex when I was 47 years old.  I will be 70 in a few months.  It wasn’t based on any religious epiphany or desire to prove myself worthy of anything.  It was a simple decision not to have sex anymore.  I decided that sex was not important, so I stopped cold turkey.  I am fascinated with all the emphasis on types of sex available today.  Society may claim that it has significant freedom to have sex with anybody or anyway desired, but I would argue that society is enslaved by this sexual free-for-all.  It is an addiction no different than alcohol or drugs.  I’m not campaigning for everybody to follow my lead and become abstinent;  however, I feel extremely comfortable with my decision.  You must make your own decision using your free will and conscience.  A moderate sex life may be a great choice for you.  It just wasn’t my choice.

I guess what I am saying is that having sex is just not that important and deciding to not have sex is really not important either.  So, what is important?  The critical thing is that you must maintain your freedom to make decisions.  You must accept the consequences for all your bad choices.  That is very important.  And you must make the decisions… not your family or peers, but you.  You must decide what is important during your life and how this may impact what happens after you die.

I believe that life is really not important, but the afterlife is the most important thing.  So, I believe how we live our lives, which probably contributes greatly to our afterlife, is very important.  And it is the things that I do during the rest of my life that should be more important than the things that I did or didn’t do earlier in life.  Thus, it is not my past twenty plus years of abstinence, but it is my future acts of kindness to others without seeking or expecting something in return.

The best gauge for judging your future acts is to examine your motives.  Would you have done these acts if nobody knew that you did them?  It is like the judge who asked the accused:  “Would you have returned the money if everybody still thought you took it and nobody would ever have known you returned it?”  Unfortunately, most people would have to honestly say they would not.  However, your actions should not feed your ego, but should instead, build your identification of who you are.  And you should be like Jesus.  Of course, this is an impossible task, but you should strive to come as close to the mark as humanly possible.

Negligence is failing to do that which a reasonable man would have done or would have avoided under the same or similar circumstances.  We can substitute sin for negligence and find that 100% of us, including me, have committed hundreds, perhaps thousands of sins.  With this heavy weight on us for bad acts committed during our lives, how can we ever get past that to what is really important?  Well, you have to start with the fact that you are going to start today asking what Jesus would have done and then attempting to modify your behaviors so that you will become a better person.  This is what is really important in life and also in the afterlife.

So, what do you think is really important?  Is it prestige, power, intelligence, money, sex-drugs-rock’nroll, possessions?  Most likely these items do not follow you into the afterlife.  I honestly don’t know what awaits us at death’s door, but I would rather have my good acts to carry with me.  That may be what is most important.

Saint or Sinner?

Does our species, Homo sapiens, lean more toward being a saint or a sinner?

Well, the answer probably depends on the circumstances.  For example, if a man loses his job and has to feed his family, he may resort to robbery or even murder to satisfy this need.  Drug addicts certainly or more likely to commit crimes in order to obtain drugs.  But what about those God-fearing citizens who smile at you at work and in your neighborhood?  Are they saints or sinners?

One of the problems in answering this question is that most people consider themselves in the best light possible – using excuses, rationalizations, self-delusions, transference, and other self-serving devices to avoid personal blame.  In other words, most people consider themselves as saints, but the rest of the world may well be sinners.  Unfortunately, the truth is that we are all, each and every one of us, sinners.  There is nobody on the face of the earth who is not a sinner, even if the sin is pride.  You don’t have to commit a crime in order to be a sinner.

One of my pet projects was to establish an Excel sheet with a listing of virtues that I would track every day.  The idea was to analyze my attempts to improve myself over the course of a year.  I gave myself a checkmark for each virtue that I achieved that day.  For instance, if I meditated, prayed, had no anger, told the truth, had an act of kindness, practiced humility, exercised patience, showed love, had joy, or served society, I would give myself a point.

The results were very disappointing.  It was like going on a diet.  I did very well the first month, but as the novelty wore off, I found myself becoming complacent and less interested in self-improvement.  I discovered that I generally was focused on myself and my needs rather than on the needs of others.  Even though I had always considered myself much less selfish than others, I was awakened by the daily chart, which showed that I served myself first and foremost.  And even after attempting to become a better person, I was reminded by the spread sheet that I was no nearer to my goal than when I started.

Even when I made temporary improvements, I would backslide.  It was exactly like going on a diet.  You might lose weight for the first six months, but then you might gain it back over the seventh month.  And when you stop eating as much, your metabolism slows down and burns fewer calories.  This makes it increasingly difficult to shed the pounds.  The same goes for trying to be a better person.  You might be a better person for half a year, but then your personal needs and desires which have been suppressed, sometimes return with a vengeance.  You may become an even worse sinner.

In civil law, we examine the evidence and place it on the scales of justice to determine if there is a preponderance of evidence that tilts the scales in one direction or the other.  Unfortunately, this is a manmade rule of law.  We would like to argue that our good deeds overshadow our evil actions so that we are primarily saints.  Unfortunately, this is a manmade hope in order to avoid any potential consequences in the afterlife.  Most of us would like to believe that if we work toward being a good person and follow a good moral code, we will land in the safe zone if there is something after death waiting for us.

I don’t think so.  Every poor decision in life carries a consequence if the afterworld has any logical significance.  One of the attractions of Christianity is that it makes Jesus the sacrificial lamb who takes on all your sins, so that there will be no consequences awaiting you.  It is important for Christians to enter the afterworld without feelings of guilt and Jesus helps them do just that, but the Bible also makes it clear that there will be consequences for our bad acts.  Ministers typically avoid this issue like the plague.  Most Christians would rather believe that they can erase all their sins by believing in Jesus.  Few ministers would say otherwise.

But sin is sin.  And bad choices are bad choices.  And consequences will be provided.  It would be absurd to believe otherwise.  Why does our species have free will to make choices and others do not?  If we didn’t have free will, everything would be predetermined and the consequences would also be predetermined.  But freedom to make choices also carries the responsibilities and consequences from those decisions.

When the Creator, for whatever reason, decided to give us this free will, it would have been illogical to let us make decisions if there were no consequences for those choices.  I have no idea why we were given this freedom, but we were.  And since we all will make bad choices, we cannot enter God’s zone of judgment in any afterlife without unifying with God.  It is only by becoming one with the Creator that we have any chance of minimizing the consequences.

Of course, I don’t know what happens after we die.  If nothing happens after death, then Homo sapiens will be the luckiest species of all times and all locations in the universe.  However, if we are still thinking after we die, then having free will would be absurd if we had no consequences for our choices.  Again, I don’t know how Judgment Day will play out, but I do know that we would have a fool for a client if we defended ourselves.  It is only by becoming one with God that you will have a fighting chance.  You cannot do it by yourself.