It’s Hard To Focus On the Distant Future

Much Christian preaching involves the idea of “repent and someday you’ll inherit eternal life.” One of the study groups I attend has been working its way through the book of Revelation for the past eight months. They are trying to come to grips with the “someday the world will end” interpretation of the writing.

Daniel Goleman brings a wealth of science research into his writing and makes it both informative and approachable. “Emotional Intelligence” is my guidebook to emotionally healthy growth, right along with “The Ladder of Divine Ascent” by John Climacus, and early Desert Father of the church. Goleman’s latest book, “Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence”, includes a chapter discussing climate change and the trouble people have trying to be concerned about something where the results are far in the future.

It seems that our brains are wired to help us survive–but only from immediate danger. That would be the “fight or flight” response you’ve heard about. This is the most likely reason why public discussion about the climate has degenerated into polarized opinions rather than rational looks into the data.

I think some of the same brain physiology is at work in the “repent or someday you’ll go to Hell” evangelizing. That’s a someday thing that does not relate to our immediate survival.

It’s also a misreading of John, the apostle and writer. John is clear in his Gospel that eternal life comes to you the moment you believe. That moment is when we begin living in eternal life. Eternal life is not someday, it’s now.

We just acknowledge, “I was living like that, then I became aware that that life was not fruitful, so I decided to live in a different way as a follower of Jesus.”

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