Christians love talking about judgment day. It seems to justify everything they do. If you stay on one side of the line, then you’re okay, but if you stray on the other side, then you are tortured for all eternity. What is this line? Some Christians talk about belonging to one group or another, but in the end the word they all use is “faith”. If you believe the right thing—like God and Jesus and the resurrection and stuff—then you get to go to a good place. If you believe the wrong thing—anything other than God and Jesus and the resurrection—then you are tortured for all eternity.
Christians say it’s a pretty easy deal. There’s nothing to do, just believe the right thing. There are a couple obvious problems with this system, though. First, not everyone has heard about Jesus, and if they have it’s easy to think of Jesus as a good story and nothing else. None of us believes in things that aren’t given to us as fact. Also, belief isn’t always something we can control. You could tell me that Thor and his hammer rule the world, and no matter how much you try to convince me, I can’t really believe it. Even if I wanted to, I just couldn’t make myself do it. So why would I be punished for eternity because I couldn’t believe in Thor? And how different is the story of Jesus?
But that’s not why Christians are wrong. They are wrong because there is one phrase throughout the Bible that describes how people will be judged on the last day: “Everyone will be judged according to what they have done.” There isn’t a single verse in the Bible that says that God will choose the Christians to inhabit the good place and the bad place to be for the non-Christians. Rather it is all based on how people live—whether they lived good lives or bad ones.
So what makes a good life as opposed to a bad one? Does it mean a life of sexual purity and singing praise to God? Does it mean attending the right church? Actually, Jesus talks about it quite plainly. Those who exhibit mercy and love in their lives are the ones who get the thumbs up, and those who are apathetic and uncaring get the thumbs down on judgment day. Specifically, Jesus says that those who spend their time feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, helping immigrants, healing the sick and being kind to people in prison are those who get to hang out with God. Which only makes sense, because God is love and it’s only reasonable that he’d want to hang with kind people for eternity. And those who don’t do kind deeds are separated from God, which also makes sense because why would God want to hang out with self-righteous, stingy people?
But what Jesus says about these guys is even more surprising. That the people who got in, didn’t know they were getting in, and those on the outs didn’t know they were being thrown out. When they saw Jesus dividing the people between good and bad, they thought they’d be on the other side. Why is this? Probably because they’ve been told all their lives that being on the right side has to do with what you believe and which religious group there is. But in the end, there will be Buddhists and Muslims and atheists and pagans who get to hang out with God and plenty of Christians and Jews who don’t. Why? Because anyone who acts out the generosity and kindness and love of God are the kind of people God wants to hang out with. And self-righteous prigs who think their intellectual capacity and the pious activities they do are enough to be with God never got it. Judgement day is a party for those who show the love of God only.
Judgment is based on what one does: Job 34: 11; Ecclesiasties 3:17; Ezekiel 33: 20; Matthew 16:27; Romans 2:6; I Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:13.
Judgment is based on acts of kindness: Matthew 25:31-46