People Like Us

From Rev. Eric Carswell, Head Pastor
March 20, 2017

The teachings for the New Church present a picture of heavenly life in which all the people in a community share a common love or similar goal. This is part of what makes it a happy heavenly home for all who live there. An angel’s neighbors are similar to them down to the core of their lives. Throughout the heavenly communities there are huge varieties of loves and degree of wisdom each angel has. With all this variety there is still heavenly happiness for each. Speaking about non-Christians who are welcomed into heaven, Divine Providence states:

For it does not matter whether their joy is like that of angels in the highest heaven or like that of angels in the lowest heaven, inasmuch as everyone who enters into heaven enters into his heart’s highest joy. He can bear no higher one, since he would be suffocated in it.

The case is comparatively like that of a peasant and a king. The peasant may experience the highest joy when going about in a new garment of coarse wool or sitting at a table laden with a cut of pork, a bit of beef, cheese, beer, and mulled wine. He would be anxious at heart if he were to be dressed like a king in purple, silk, gold and silver, or if he had placed before him a table laden with many kinds of delicacies and sumptuous foods accompanied by vintage wine. It is apparent from this that those who are last experience heavenly happiness as well as those who are first, each on his own level. (Divine Providence 254:3-4)

An unpleasant aspect of human nature is that differences among human beings, even very external differences, can arouse disgust and hatred. In this case people can feel justified in saying and doing very harmful things to those who are perceived as “unlike.” Sadly, in the United States, in the last few months there have been too many examples of this kind of behavior.

The Lord directly addressed the natural human inclination to feel hatred toward a group somehow defined as “the enemy.” He stated:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you….” (Matthew 5:43-44)

Yes, a wise person makes judgments about the qualities of the people with whom he or she associates. However, the Lord encourages us to look deeper than superficial qualities of education, social class, skin color or religion when we find our mind starting to see someone as different from ourselves. If we have eyes to recognize it, the Lord has a huge number of people in this world who may appear different externally from who we are, but may actually someday be our next door neighbor in a heavenly community.

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