When We All Get To Heaven… Love and Equality
In the story of Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., the world has taken measures to force everyone to be equal. The athletic are made to wear weights, so they will be no more able than than those weaker. The handsome and beautiful are forced to wear masks, a rubber nose, even black caps on their teeth, so as to not be more physically attractive than anyone else. Those of superior intelligence must listen to irritating distracting sounds on a radio headphone, to keep them from being able to think, so they are effectively made to be of average intelligence. Harrison, a handsome athletic genius is imprisoned for his attitude of nonconformity. Refusing to live this way, he escapes, sheds his forced handicaps, does an impressive ballet dance on TV, and is shot. End of story. So much for mankind’s efforts to make everyone equal.
I was thinking about God’s love today, and this story came to mind, in how radically different the way equality is found in God. And also, just how differently God sees people from how people see eachother. Because it seems that God sees everyone as equal, always, whereas we do not. God sees all lost sinners as equally sinful people, whether they have but one sin or many, whether it was murder, or covetousness in their heart. And God loves all sinful lost people anyway, one as much as another – as God sent His son to die for all of them, and for any of them, who might choose to accept Him.
And God sends His rain and sunshine on them equally as the righteous, regardless of if they choose to love God or not. And their looks or intelligence is irrelevant, as are their accomplishments, or how they are esteemed, or not, by the world of men. To God, all are equally loved, regardless of anything.
And we all are equally undeserving of that love, beings sinners, whose offering of our own “works of righteousness are like filthy rags”. Rather, God loves us because He is good, not because we are good enough to deserve it. And only He enables us to true righteousness, and good fruits and works, as we remain in Him.
And among the saints, Jesus made it clear that His will is for us to “love your neighbor as yourself” and “treat others as you would like to be treated”. There were no qualifiers given about that.
Not “love your neighbor as yourself, if you esteem them as equal to you (and therefore your neighbor) because of ____ and deemed worthy and deserving of love because of ____.”
But rather, equality is implied, that equality should be assumed as a given, without any further reason, indicating that the truth is we are all equal in God’s sight. And so as the truth is we are all equal, neighbors, one no more deserving of love than another for any reason, we are commanded to reflect that truth in “love your neighbor as yourself”.
What people put in those blanks, to qualify someone as their neighbor, to qualify that someone is worthy of bestowing love upon, are always lies. And I can say with assurance they are always lies, bad things, wrong things, because Anything that might be used as an excuse to disobey this direct command of God, must be against God and truth.
Some of the biggest excuses, as it pertain to within the church, are covered in the statement,
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye [be] Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Gal 3:28
The excuses of any sort of racism, color of skin, nationality, any sort of class difference, social pecking order, rich or poor, and any form of sexism, are all nullified in this. And the reasons that are given to help explain this are more than sufficient to nullify any other excuse one could come up with, if understood.
The first reason is that we are all one in Christ Jesus. This refers to us all being parts of the body of Christ, where Christ is the head of that body. We are arms and legs, hands and feet, eyes and ears, fingers and toes, of the body of Jesus Christ, who is the head itself of the body. And the different body parts we are represent the different functions we have been given in the body, the gifts of the Holy Spirit and callings of God. We are no longer Jews or Greeks, bondmen or freemen, male or female, but rather we are all parts of the same body, each essential to it, parts of one another.
Now regardless of race, gender, or class, we function tied together as apostles, and prophets, and teachers, and evangelists, and shepherds, and counselors, and helpers, and healers, and so on.
“How can the eye say to the hand, I have no need of you?” How can one part of a body say it is more deserving of love than another, making excuses, if one part is injured doesn’t the whole body all suffer? And if one part is well, isn’t the whole body better for it? How can one part of the body try to deny that it is a neighbor with another part of the same body? How can the hand envy or hate the eye, refuse to help it, or seek to harm it? Wouldn’t that be insane?
And the gifts and calling of God are given for the benefit of the whole body, and to serve the body in love,
“How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying… Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual [gifts], seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.” (1 Cor 14:26,12)
“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Gal 5:13-14
The gifts and callings are not given so that we would think of one person as more or less than another, or think more or less of ourself than others,
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “ If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Rom 12
That the parts of the body are different and have different functions in no way is meant to be an occasion for part of the body to think of itself as better than another. Rather we are to have the same mind toward one another, of equality. And so in Gal 3:28, that we are “all one in Christ Jesus” is the first reason given as to show, while there are many different parts, we are all neighbors and equal, and each should love their neighbor as themself.
The second reason given is that we are all “heirs according to the promise”. This refers to the inheritance we have in Jesus Christ, as children of God. What do we all stand to inherit? Just looking at eternal life, someday this life here, what few years we spend in this life, will seem so brief in comparison to eternity, time without end. What are 70 years here, even a 120 years here, compared to 10,000 years? or 1,000,000 years? And this in a world without pain or sorrow, or evil of any sort. But besides eternal life, there are many other things that go with it, so much that it is almost too joyous to think of.
Do we know what we stand to inherit? Can we?
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
But don’t forget the rest of the passage, “But God hath revealed [them] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Cor 2:9-16
We are told we are, and will all be, of a royal priesthood, all be of the same high stature, no matter how low we were in this life.
“But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past [were] not a people, but [are] now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Pet 2:9-10
In this, even the poorest Christian sibling, or no stature or report, even a homeless Christian living on the street today, who people might look down on, will someday we equal to the most well-known and respected Christian teacher, who people might look up to.
We are told we will all live together regardless of our former race or nationality, being the people of God, without regard to Jew or Gentile, both in the millennial kingdom, and in the New Jerusalem, “So shall ye divide this land unto you according to the tribes of Israel. And it shall come to pass, [that] ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you, and to the strangers that sojourn among you, which shall beget children among you: and they shall be unto you as born in the country among the children of Israel; they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. And it shall come to pass, [that] in what tribe the stranger sojourneth, there shall ye give [him] his inheritance, saith the Lord GOD.” Eze 47:21-23
We also can know, from comparing the old temple, to the temple yet to come in the millennial kingdom, that there is no special court for women during the millennial reign. But rather that “there is no male or female in Christ Jesus” is reflected. (Regardless of how you as a Christian view women today, and the varying views there…)
In the kingdom of God women and men will both be like the angels in heaven.
“In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife. And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.” Mark 12:23-25
Angels answer to the Lord directly. Men and women will both live as children of the Father, answering to the Lord directly, in relationship with the Lord, reigning with Him, and with The Lord alone being the sole authority. Men and women will both partake of all of the above blessings equally, and all other blessings and gifts of the Father equally.
“Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years.” Rev 20:6 “Then [cometh] the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.” 1 Cor 15:24 Truly, there is “no male or female in Christ Jesus”.
And it is true today also, that the Holy Spirit gives gifts without regard to gender in the body of Christ, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17-18) And also 1 Pet 3:7 makes clear that men and women are equal “joint-heirs” or “co-heirs” “in the grace of life”, and with this all the blessings of grace and our inheritance to come in eternal life.
And so in our inheritance, there is “neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female”.
We are told that we will all be given new bodies, immortal, even perfect, and healed compared to the bodies we have now. The lame will walk, the blind will see, all infirmity of any sort will be gone, and we all will be everything we were originally meant to be. It could be said we will be restored in a way, more to the perfection that was originally present with the first man and woman in Eden. How much have we fallen with a world in decay? It stand to reason that originally, humans were in much better shape than they are now.
Their health was such that they lived 900 years, but today we live no more than 120 years. It stands to reason God made them to be without a spot or blemish, and looking beautiful. And beyond this, based on Adam’s creative ability to name all the animals shortly after coming into existence, it stands to reason they were created of the greatest genius level intelligence. Truly, it is the brain itself, and not the spirit or soul of a person, which is the limiting factor in intelligence. Created with the pinnacle of perfection of the human body, there was no decay in them like we see thousands of years later.
If our new immortal bodies are restored to this sort of original ideal, then while keeping our individuality… we will all take part in God’s original blueprint of man, had by the first man and woman. It seems possible that all of God’s children will be in the best of health of the body, without any infirmity, beautiful, and all of the same great intelligence.
And God’s children will All equally partake of this restoration in the new immortal bodies we will be given, while each still being individually different. If so, what this means, and I think in any case anyway, is that all such things like looks, plain or pretty, spotless or blemished, health, fat or thin, weak or strong, and intelligence, slow or fast, dumb or genius, All of this is going to be done away with. We will all be restored, equal and perfected in all these things.
In the world today there is much impact on people’s thinking about comparison, and superficial differences… the concept of “survival of the fittest”, and those who are more evolved or superior. But this is a worldly lie. There will be no such things in the Kingdom of God, among His children. And so anything existing in this world along these lines,
to judge someone as inferior or superior, your neighbor or not, because of looks, health, infirmities of the body, or especially intelligence, is based on deception. Looking at things the way they truly are is to look at them from God’s true eternal perspective. All of these comparative differences of the state of a body, are temporary and meaningless in the eternal perspective.
Someday it seems that the most unhealthy, mentally slow, unlovely, infirmed Christian brother or sister, will be just as healthy, intellectually brilliant, beautiful and perfectly healed, as any and all of their siblings. And the most beautiful, intelligent, healthy bodied Christian brother or sister today, will someday find all their siblings to have these things in common with them, in equality, and also in different uniqueness. All of the superficial things relating to the body and it’s attributes or effects, that people might be looked down on for, looked up to for, pride themselves on, or feel bad about, will be done away with, and all will be equal.
We also are going to inherit all wisdom and all knowledge, in full. Now some people know some things in part, but someday we will all know everything equally in full.
“Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor 13
This means that those who have accrued knowledge now by whatever means, whether through the blessing of schooling and study, or more directly through a gift of the Holy Spirit, will someday find themselves to realize how little they knew prior in part, imperfectly, as they receive a full perfect understanding. And those who once knew little, will also all receive a full perfect understanding. Whatever the topic may be, in the kingdom of God His children will receive perfect understanding of the truth. And so again, from the eternal perspective there is only equality among siblings, and all differences are temporary. And the greatest knowledge we all will receive is to know God Himself!
“And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.” Hos 2:19-20
Of course, we also can receive understanding from God today, as in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, or as is said in Jer 33:2-3: “Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD [is] his name; Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”
And in this schooling, credentials, intelligence, etc. are made to be only one aspect of learning, as God may choose to educate and show truth to His children, regardless of formal schooling, intelligence, or credentials. In the church, it is the power of Holy Spirit, and the gifts He chooses for each of us to have, that determine what part of the body we function as, and it is faith, not works, which allows for learning wisdom, and this faith also is a gift from God.
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord”…and… “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” (Jam 1:5-7, Rom 12:3)
And in the body of Christ, we all are partaking of making foolish the wisdom of this world. The Bible also says,
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “ I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” 1 Cor 1
If we glory, we are to glory in the Lord, in what He has done, who made us all different, each with unique qualities of the body and mind, each with different opportunities and circumstances in this life. Nothing we have is of ourselves, but all blessings in this life are a gift from God, who also has made all of us to be equal heirs, to a glorious inheritance. In God’s sight we are all equally loved and valued, despite all differences. And from the perspective of eternity, we all will someday live in equality, with differences being done away with, and we will see the truth very clearly that we are all equally loved by God, made in His image, and His children.
Our sinful tendency is to worldly thinking: to compare one person to another, and think of one as superior or inferior, to think of one being our neighbor and another as not, because one is more like us than another, or to think of one as being more deserving of our love than another. But any and all such excuses to not “love your neighbor as yourself” are lies, as I hope has been made clearer here. With each of us, our true life is hidden for now in Christ, but will be revealed, and we shall see each other as God sees us, from His eternal perspective.
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” Col 3
Truly what awaits us is so joyous and glorious, to be with our Father who Loves us and is Love, that the sorrows of this life are nothing in comparison…. as Paul said,
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Rom 8
And so the Bible teaches that we children of God have yet to grow up into our inheritance, the fullness of everything we will be, when we are glorified as heirs with Christ our King. Right now we do not see each other as everything we will be, for eternity, but we hope for what we do not yet see, and while we hope we are commanded to “love your neighbor as yourself” and “treat others as we want to be treated”. And in faith and love for God we are commanded to do this.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” and “For we walk by faith, not by sight”. (Heb 11:1, 2 Cor 5:7)
So let us walk in faith, loving our neighbors as ourselves, without excuse, seeing others from God’s eternal perspective.
First, we should love God, who is Good, who all good things come from, who is Love, who made us, and Loves us, and seeks loving relationship with each of us by His Son Jesus Christ.
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment.”
Second, we should love each other, as the children of God, and siblings for all eternity in equality, equally loved by our Father. And let us love others who are not, as those who may potentially be adopted into God’s family and may become brothers and sisters soon, and so share with them the saving Gospel.
“And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
Our God is perfect, and calls us to become perfect also. It is not because we are deserving of love that He loves us, but because He is Good. And so in trying to be like God our Father, we also need to love others not because they deserve it, but in the fruit of the Holy Spirit as we seek to become good like God our Father.
The point of these teachings here are not that you should love others because they someday will become beautiful and brilliant wise and knowledgeable, your equal “neighbors” who will someday be made to be “deserving” of love. Rather, the point is to try to bring into sharp contrast the huge difference between worldly thinking, and the way God sees things, the world as it is, and the world as it will be in eternity, in the hope that the Word of God might divide asunder soul and spirit to reveal the truth: None is good but God, we are all sinful dust given life for His glory, and His glory alone – and our true equality is to be found in that we all are equally just sinful dust given life, and whatever is good or glorious about us is a gift from Him and not of ourselves, as is the gift of life itself.
And what God made us for and wants for us, was to have a relationship with Him. It’s emphasized and re-emphasized over and over again in the Bible; God is our Father, the church is the Bride of Christ. God wants to relate to us as a loving perfect Father, Jesus Christ wants to relate to us as a loving perfect husband, a loving perfect older brother, and God Himself is love.
The truth is, what makes life worth living, and eternal life worth living, is not anything besides first utmost and primary: having a right relationship of love and closeness with God. That is what it is all about. Your relationship with God the Father, your love for Him and His for you, will last for all eternity, and nothing else can give you the same peace and joy in life as having a close loving relationship with God. And this relationship only comes through a loving relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man, who loved you so much He died for you, to save you, who like a knight on a white horse was willing to die to rescue you, and then take you away to his golden castle covered in jewels, and that is nothing less than what He literally does for all of us. He loves us SO MUCH, and like no one else ever could. The only proper response we can have is to worship Him, to worship God, and try to love Him, and show him we love Him in return, by trying to obey Him, and in adoration, become like Him. And this relationship of mutual love will last for all eternity, and is the most wonderful thing there is. And unlike everything else that you could ever have and keep, only this will bring you peace and joy in life, and only this will last for all eternity.
But also, on a smaller scale when it comes to eternity, the same is true with each other. Some things will last forever, and some things will not. The Bible makes it very clear that we cannot carry possessions with us to heaven. However, nor can we carry whatever it is we may feel pride about, whatever unique things (that are good) that we might (wrongly) use to make or see inequality between ourselves and others, or use as excuses for not loving others. When all of those differences are stripped away, and they will be, the only thing that is left which we can carry into eternity from this world is this: our Love for each other. Acts of love, loving kindness, closeness, relationships with each other: these things alone will remain.
” If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor 13:1-8, 13
ps. Between Jesus ascending into heaven, angels flying in the mid-heaven, and us being like the angels in heaven…I also do think that someday we may be able to fly. :D Guess we’ll see…