The personal blog of Frank Lesko. Award-winning writer. Non-profit entrepreneur. Activist. Religious professional. Foodie. Musician. All around curious soul and Renaissance man.

See also my professional blog: The Traveling Ecumenist.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Whatsoever You Do

I grew up liking the song "Whatsoever You Do" by Williard F. Jabusch. It was often sung in Church. I always liked songs with themes of service and social justice.

It is an almost word-for-word adaptation of Matthew 25:

Whatsoever you do
to the least of my people,
that you do unto me.

When I was hungry, you gave me to eat;
When I was thirsty, you gave me to drink.
Now enter into the home of my father.


The difficulty is the last line. It has been hard on me the last several years, and it has affected my enjoyment of the song--Now enter into the home of my father.

I don't like thinking of Christian service in a rewards-punishment relationship. You do this service, you get this reward. If you help the poor, you'll go to heaven.

Nevertheless, there are consequences to our actions. Whatever we do will have a consequence, good, bad or indifferent. It is just hard to do the right thing for the right reasons when there are direct rewards and punishments in the way. I think it stunts our spiritual growth to dwell on that and to do good deeds in hopes of a reward or fear of the punishment.

Today, I had an insight that has helped me think about this differently. We the readers are the ones who are making this out to be about some kind of eternal rewards in the afterlife. The Gospels say the kingdom is now. You help the poor, you'll be living in God's home now. The joy is now. The quality of relationship is now. The impact is now. The prize is the gift itself, not (necessarily) some kind of pirate's treasure later on in heaven. The joy of participation in God's kingdom is the reward.

And maybe that is no different than the joys of heaven. Maybe my perception of heaven is that it is framed like the ultimate tropical vacation of feasting and good weather and non-stop parties. Cities of gold and all that. Heaven is sold to us like the ultimate drug trip, just constant euphoria. Maybe the Gospels are telling us not just how to get to heaven, but what heaven actually is.